|“||Today, young Ebenezer, you become a man of business... It is the American way! Oh...? Ahem. It is the British way! Yes.||”|
— Sam the Eagle as Scrooge's School Headmaster, making certain this version is never too serious
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 film starring Michael Caine and the Muppets in an adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel A Christmas Carol. It is notably the first theatrical film to star the Muppets following the deaths of Muppets creator Jim Henson and fellow puppeteer Richard Hunt; as such, the film was dedicated to the memory of both Henson and Hunt. It is also the second theatrical film adaptation of A Christmas Carol released by Walt Disney Pictures, between Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983 and Robert Zemeckis' CGI-influenced version in 2009.
In this adaptation of the Christmas story, narrated by Gonzo as Charles Dickens (with the occasional commentary of Rizzo the Rat), it is Christmas Eve in 19th century London. The merriment is not shared by Ebenezer Scrooge, a surly money-lender who is more interested in profit than celebration. He is so cold to the season of giving that his book-keeping staff, including loyal employee Bob Cratchit (played by Kermit the Frog), have to plead with him just to have the day off work during Christmas by pointing out that Scrooge would have no customers on the holiday and that it would waste coal to sit alone in the office. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, arrives to invite his uncle to Christmas dinner, and two gentlemen (Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker) also come to Scrooge's offices, collecting money in the spirit of the season to provide a Christmas dinner for the poor. Scrooge rebuffs his nephew and complains that it is not worth looking after the poor, as their deaths will decrease the surplus population. Fred is shocked at his uncle's uncharitable and cold nature, but repeats his invitation, makes his own donation, and departs.
Later that evening, Scrooge finds himself face to face with the still mean-spirited spirits of his former business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf), who have been condemned to shackles in the afterlife as payment for the horrible deeds they committed in life. Nonetheless, they warn him that he will share the same fate, only worse, if he does not change his ways, and foretell the arrival of three spirits throughout the night.
Scrooge is first visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, a childlike specter who takes Scrooge on a journey back through time to his youth. He recalls his early school days, during which he focused on his studies; meeting of a young woman named Belle, with whom he would later fall in love; and the end of their relationship, despite Scrooge's protests that he would marry her as soon as he feels he has enough money to provide for them, but Belle knows he will most likely never have that, given his birthing obsession with money.
Scrooge then meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, a large, festive spirit with a booming voice who lives only for the here and now. He gives Scrooge a glimpse into the holiday celebration of others, including Bob Cratchit, and his family who, although poor, are enjoying Christmas together and reveling in the anticipation of the Christmas goose. Among them is his youngest son Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog), who is terminally ill and isn't eating enough due to Bob's lack of money. The Spirit also shows Scrooge's own family, who are not above cracking jokes at Scrooge's expense. The Spirit warns Scrooge that if he does not pay Bob, then there will likely be an empty seat where Tiny Tim is currently sitting.
Finally, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a silent entity who reveals the chilling revelation that Tiny Tim will not survive the coming year and pass away, thanks in no small part to the impoverished existence of the Cratchit family. Furthermore, it is revealed that when Scrooge's own time has passed, others will certainly delight in his absence from the world. Upon seeing his headstone in the cemetery, it is the final epiphany that convinces Scrooge to change his ways, and makes him vow to celebrate with his fellow man.
Scrooge returns to his bedroom on Christmas Day, and he goes about the town spreading good deeds and charity. He enlists the help of Bean Bunny, at whom he threw a wreath earlier in the film, and the two travel around the town gathering items for a Christmas feast and giving gifts to characters who had previously been wronged by Scrooge. Scrooge tells his assistant, Bob Cratchit, that he is going to raise his salary, and pay for his house mortgage. It is also revealed that, as a result of Scrooge's transformation, Tiny Tim will not die the premature death predicted by the final ghost. In the meantime, Scrooge plans a feast for Cratchit's family, and learns to adopt the spirit of Christmas throughout the year, now encouraged by his many new-found friends.
Songs featured in the film include:
- "Scrooge" - Cast
- "Good King Wenceslas" - Bean Bunny
- "One More Sleep 'til Christmas" - Kermit
- "Marley and Marley" - Statler and Waldorf
- "When Love is Gone" - Belle (video releases only)
- "It Feels Like Christmas" - The Ghost of Christmas Present
- "Christmas Scat" - Kermit and Robin
- "Bless Us All" - Robin and Cast
- "Thankful Heart" - Scrooge
- "Finale - When Love is Found/It Feels Like Christmas (reprise)" - Cast
The song "When Love is Gone" was cut from the film's original theatrical release, because the filmmakers found that the test audiences (mainly family viewers with younger children) became restless during the scene in question. When the movie was released on VHS and Laserdisc in the United States and the United Kingdom the following year, "When Love is Gone" was reinstated, since the filmmakers decided it worked better in a home-viewing context, and that audiences would appreciate its inclusion. Subsequent video releases of the film have included the song, with the 2005 DVD release also containing the original theatrical version. The song is also present as a bonus feature with the film on Disney+, but the UK DVD release and the 2012 Blu-ray release did not include the song.
Two extra songs were also written for the film by Paul Williams - "Room in Your Heart" (sung by Bunsen and Beaker), and "Chairman of the Board" (sung by Sam the Eagle). These two songs were dropped from the script early on because the filmmakers felt the film was already going to be quite lengthy, that the songs didn't help progress the story, and that they would hurt the overall pacing and feel of the film. However, since the filmmakers did not want the songs to go to waste, they were included on the film's soundtrack album.
The Muppet Christmas Carol Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was initially released by Jim Henson Records in 1992 in conjunction with the film's theatrical release. It was subsequently reissued by Walt Disney Records in conjunction with the 2005 DVD release, and later as a digital download in 2012. The album contains all of the songs featured in the film, including the above-mentioned deleted songs. Portions of the film's score, composed by Miles Goodman, were also included on the album.
The track listing was as follows:
- "Overture" (score)
- "Room in Your Heart"
- "Good King Wenceslas"
- "One More Sleep 'til Christmas"
- "Marley and Marley"
- "Christmas Past" (score)
- "Chairman of the Board"
- "Fozziwig's Party"
- "When Love is Gone"
- "It Feels Like Christmas"
- "Christmas Scat"
- "Bless Us All"
- "Christmas Future" (score)
- "Christmas Morning" (score)
- "Thankful Heart"
- "Finale - When Love Is Found/It Feels Like Christmas"
- "When Love is Gone" (credits version, performed by Martina McBride)
- This was the first Muppet movie to be adapted from literature (followed up by 1996's Muppet Treasure Island and the 2005 made-for-TV movie The Muppets' Wizard of Oz), and thus also the first Muppet movie in which the story revolves around characters played by humans. However, several pivotal roles—in particular, the three Christmas Spirits—were portrayed by specially-created Muppet characters. It was at one time considered that well-known Muppets would be cast in these roles (Piggy, Scooter, and Gonzo, specifically) before it was decided that it would detract from the ominous effect the spirits would need to convey.
- The Muppets had previously done a version of A Christmas Carol as a comic in the Winter 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine. The comic, titled "A (Sort of) Christmas Carol", had an all-Muppet cast, with Sam the Eagle as Scrooge, Animal as Jacob Marley, Floyd as Fred, and Fozzie, Dr. Teeth, and Gonzo as the three Ghosts; Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Robin's roles were the same ones they would have in the movie.
- Another Muppet version of A Christmas Carol, titled "Yet Another Christmas Carol", appeared in the 1999 book A Very Muppet Christmas. This version had Kermit and Fozzie in the same roles as in the movie, with Statler as Scrooge, Waldorf as Marley, Scooter as Fred, and the Swedish Chef, Piggy, and Gonzo as the Ghosts.
- This was the first theatrical Muppet film to not include cameos from any Sesame Street characters (not counting Kermit). However, Sprocket and several minor characters from Fraggle Rock appear in several crowd shots, including singing along in "Thankful Heart" at the end.
- The character of Scrooge's sister, Fan/Fran, is completely absent from this version.
- Near the end of the film, Scrooge and company pass by a store called "Micklewhite's", after Michael Caine's real name, Maurice Micklewhite. Another store sign is called "Statler and Waldorf," the names of the Muppets who portray Jabob and Robert Marley.
- This film was originally planned to be a TV special.
- Fozzie's snowman friend from A Muppet Family Christmas has a brief cameo during the "It Feels Like Christmas" sequence.
- Many of the Muppet characters' costumes from this movie were reused for Muppets Haunted Mansion almost three decades later.
- Some syndicated airings of the film in the 1990s included more footage for the Marleys' scene, which included the full version of their song (including lyrics that are heard on the soundtrack, but not used in the theatrical and video releases).
- On Disney+, Bobby Benson's cigarette during "It Feels Like Christmas" was digitally removed.
Home video releases
After its original theatrical release, Buena Vista Home Video, under the Jim Henson Video label, released The Muppet Christmas Carol was released on VHS and Laserdisc in the United States on November 5, 1993. It was released on home video in the United Kingdom on November 19 of the same year.
Disney released the movie on DVD for the first time on October 8, 2002. In addition to the pan-and-scan "home video edit" of the film, the DVD contained an audio commentary by director Brian Henson, a 22-minute making-of documentary, an educational featurette about worldwide Christmas traditions starring Gonzo and Rizzo, and a production outtakes reel.
Three years later, Disney released the film on DVD again, this time as part of their "Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition" series (in which they also released new DVDs of The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and Muppet Treasure Island). The 2005 DVD featured the film in both its original theatrical cut (presented in widescreen) and the home video edit (presented in pan-and-scan). It also contained most of the extra features from the previous DVD (with the strange exception of the making-of documentary) as well as a new "Pepe's Profiles" featurette profiling Gonzo.
A 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / Digital Copy combo pack, labeled the "It's Not Easy Being Scrooge" Edition, was released on November 6, 2012, alongside a reissue of the 2005 DVD release (with new cover art and a different label). The Blu-ray contained all of the bonus features from the previous two DVD releases, plus a second audio commentary by the Muppets; however, the film was presented without the "When Love is Gone" song. A combo pack containing the DVD, the Blu-ray, and the Digital Copy was also made available exclusively on Amazon.com.
|Michael Caine||Ebenezer Scrooge|
|Edward Sanders||Young Scrooge (Child 1)|
|Theo Sanders||Young Scrooge (Child 2)|
|Kristopher Milnes||Young Scrooge (Child 3)|
|Russell Martin||Young Scrooge (Adolescent)|
|Raymond Coulthard||Young Scrooge (Adult)|
|Anthony Hamblin||Boy #1|
|Fergus Brazier||Boy #2|
|Dave Goelz||Charles Dickens (Gonzo)|
Robert Marley (Waldorf)
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
|Steve Whitmire||Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog)|
Rizzo the Rat
|Frank Oz||Emily Cratchit (Miss Piggy)|
Fozziwig (Fozzie Bear)
The Headmaster (Sam the Eagle)
George the Janitor
|Jerry Nelson||Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog)|
Jacob Marley (Statler)
Ma Fozziwig (Emily Bear)
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Dr. Julius Strangepork
|David Rudman||Peter Cratchit|
The Swedish Chef
|Karen Prell||Daughter Mouse|
The Ghost of Christmas Past
|Mike Quinn||Pig businessman|
|Louise Gold||Cockney woman|
Brool the Minstrel
Note: Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, Rowlf the Dog, Lips, Sprocket, J.P. Grosse, Pops, Lyle the Dog, Chester Rat, Masterson Rat, Montague, Tatooey Rat, Murray the Minstrel, Begoony, Mudwell the Mudbunny, the Snowman, Mrs. Appleby, Wolf, Bobby Benson, Link Hogthrob, Richmond the Horse, Babies, Geri and the Atrics, the Frackles, Cashboxes and Locks, the Christmas Turkey, Louise the chicken, a beggar on a crutch, Mr. Curly Twirly and various Dogs, Whatnots, Lobsters, Frogs, Raccoons, Chickens, Cows and Sheep appear, but do not have speaking parts.
- Muppet Wiki: The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Disney Wiki: The Muppet Christmas Carol
- The Muppet Christmas Carol at the Internet Movie Database
- The Muppet Christmas Carol at Allmovie
- The Muppet Christmas Carol at TV Tropes
- The Muppet Christmas Carol at Behind the Voice Actors
- The Muppet Christmas Carol at Rotten Tomatoes
content from Wikipedia (view authors).
|The Walt Disney Company|