23
Jul 04

FT Top 100 Films 56: THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

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FT Top 100 Films
56: THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

So if The Dark Crystal is The Muppet Movie without the laffs, what is this? The Muppet Movie with Michael Caine as Scrooge? Pretty much. It keeps in the laffs, but it is also a pretty straight adaptation of the Christmas Tale. I think I would go as far to say that this version of A Christmas Carol, is the most faithful to Dickens aims. Very little of that is due to Caine (though he isn’t at his most sleepwalkerly), but it is all about the muppets.

The idea of having Gonzo The Great play Charles Dickens is a masterstroke. The film starts of as a meta-comentary on the Dickens story, but also is couched in Gonzo’s loveable loserness we cannot help but enjoy the way the story is told. Plenty of other Muppets characters are shoe horned in (Waldorf & Statler’s Jacob and Robert Marley are particularly note-worthy) but it rarely feels forced. Most importantly, the muppets represent fun. They represent a slightly anarchic view of the world. And thus the create a perfect contrast between Scrooge’s mean and miserly world and that of generosity and Christmas spirit.

In many ways it is a pity that Caine does not turn into a Muppet at the end to emphasised this (whilst he is not the only human in the film, he is pretty much outnumbered). Instead they make him part of a song and dance number which is fun to watch just because it is Caine – who does not really do song and dance numbers. I think this might be the last film I saw in the cinema with my Mum, and she loved it. And whilst it only vaguely touches on the thorny issue of misegenation between pigs and frogs, I think it is probably my favourite Christmas movie. Perhaps because it only just touches upon it?

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