Blu-ray Review: “The Muppet Christmas Carol”

“Muppet Christmas Carol” is missing much of the wit and energy that Jim Henson brought to his creations, choosing to follow Charles Dickens' original narrative rather than bending Dickens' words to suit the personalities of Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo.
Oklahoman Published: December 7, 2012
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‘The Muppet Christmas Carol' (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

Brian Henson directed 1992's “The Muppet Christmas Carol” two years after the death of his father, Muppets creator Jim Henson, so it came at a time when the company was trying to prove it could move forward without the visionary leadership of its founder. By that score, “Muppet Christmas Carol” is missing much of the wit and energy that the elder Henson brought to his creations, choosing to follow Charles Dickens' original narrative rather than bending Dickens' words to suit the personalities of Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. While flesh-and-blood actors figured prominently in “The Muppet Movie,” “The Great Muppet Caper” and “Muppets Take Manhattan,” “Muppet Christmas Carol” suffers in part because of the odd distance between Henson's characters and Michael Caine's Ebenezer Scrooge. As forCaine's fabric co-stars, they are all performed well but with less of the manic charm that was brought to “The Muppet Show” and the first few films. Due to some postproduction tinkering that excised a key musical performance, “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is frequently seen as a truncated, compromised film. “When Love is Gone,” a Paul Williams ballad sung by Belle (Meredith Braun) was removed allegedly because the ballad did not test well with children. When Caine's Scrooge tells the Ghost of Christmas Past, “Spirit, show me no more. Why do you delight in torturing me?” it is as if he is reacting without provocation. Even viewers unfamiliar with the song's history will notice the edit. It does not inspire the kind of fervor and furor that surrounded the often sliced-and-diced “Fantasia” for decades, but this is a sticking point for ardent Muppet fans who will continue to feel slighted by this new release.

George Lang


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