Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

"Stop and look around you, the glory that you see, is born again each day, don't let it slip away, how precious life can be!"

It had been 8 years since a Muppet movie had been released and only 2 years since Jim Henson had sadly passed away. But the movie that Jim Henson had originally wanted to be made was going to be made as a lasting tribute to him. "The Muppet Christmas Carol" was the first Muppet project produced after Jim Henson had died as well as Muppet performer Richard Hunt (performer of Scooter among others) who died in 1992. But what was produced was better than many probably would have expected.

The movie is very simple, a retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, done a million times over but this one actually has Gonzo (performed by Dave Goelz) and Rizzo the Rat (performed by Steve Whitmire) narrating the film from within the film. Scrooge is played by Michael Caine and the film is directed by Brian Henson (Jim Henson's son). The critical role of Kermit (previously performed by Jim Henson) was handed off to Steve Whitmire and the role is done perfectly!

I feel the film works incredibly well because the environment they produce is perfect. Michael Caine was the best choice for Scrooge, the roles of the Muppets are wisely chosen. I think the best Muppet casting is Statler and Waldorf as Marley (& Marley) and they get their chances of heckling Scrooge! The songs are amazing including the "missing" song of "When Love is Gone" (missing for some reason from the widescreen version of the film on the DVD but on the full screen version). The songs are touching and can actually work very well as simply Christmas songs (like "It Feels Like Christmas" and "One More Sleep Till Christmas").

I think this is a very good tribute to Jim Henson (the film is dedicated to Henson and Hunt), out of respect Henson's "signature" character of Rowlf does not speak (nor does Dr. Teeth) and Hunt's characters of Scooter and Janice are silent as well (not to be heard again until "Muppets From Space" for Scooter and "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie" for Janice). The movie is a pretty damn close adaptation of the novel and goes down as my personal favorite version of the story.