Film review – The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992)

This article was originally published in December 2014.

Every year my Christmas is not completely underway until I see my favourite Christmas film. That film is The Muppet Christmas Carol. I don’t watch it at the same point every year. Sometimes it comes the weekend before the big day, occasionally it gets an airing on the day itself. I think the ideal time is in the afternoon of Christmas Eve. By that point I’ll have finished work for a week or so, the log fire will be going, I’ll be wearing a big jumper and I’ll just need a way to delay wrapping the last of the presents for around 90 minutes. What better way to relax than revisiting a childhood favourite and rejuvenating the magic of Christmas.

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Don’t get me wrong, there are some absolutely amazing Christmas films out there. I would put good money on my brother and me sticking on Die Hard in the evening of Christmas Eve, and I usually make sure A Christmas Story is involved somewhere along the line (a film that is criminally unpopular in the UK but is apparently very popular in USA). But above all this, there’s something undeniably festive about The Muppets’ retelling of the classic Dickens story A Christmas Carol that really hits home.

I am a huge fan of The Muppets and I was thrilled when they got the 2011 film so right, with Brett McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords peppering a top quality script with some of his best ever songs. Songs like “Man or Muppet” and “Life’s A Happy Song” match songs like “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas” or “Marley and Marley” pound-for-pound, but it’s hard to compete with something I’ve been watching every year since I was about 12 [1].

For those who are still unfamiliar with this film (I assume you are all under the age of one and therefore haven’t had a Christmas yet), it is a fairly accurate retelling of the story, only with almost every character replaced by a familiar Muppet: Tiny Tim is played by Robin the Frog, Fezziwig becomes Fozzywig. You get the idea. Michael Caine puts in a fabulous turn as Scrooge, really revelling in being as humbuggy as is imaginable.

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It is pretty silly in parts, and it is a musical, and it is with puppets. I’m positive that Charles Dickens would have hated this rehashing of his classic tale. But his would-be loss is our gain. It uses some great source material and turns it into something equally great but completely different. It doesn’t lose any of the messages, and that’s probably the most important thing.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is showing at some selected cinemas across the UK this Christmas, including (for those in the East Midlands) Broadway in Nottingham and QUAD in Derby. It will also be showing at least once in my front room, and the soundtrack will be on repeat throughout Christmas morning. Maybe.

[1] I was, however, equally disappointed when they got the 2014 Most Wanted picture so terribly wrong, but you can’t win every time I guess.

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