William Mortensen Vaughan
|As of: 6:55 a.m. E.D.T., Thursday, May 30, 2019|
Title: A Muppet Christmas Carol
My Rating: *****
Dove Foundation Rating: Approved for All Ages
M.P.A.A. Rating: General Audiences
Adaptation: Starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, Meredith Braun as Belle, and the Muppets as themselves.
Date Released: Friday, December 11, 1992
Formats Reviewed: live-action, feature-lenght film, on DVD and BluRay
Is this adaptation reverent?: Yes.
Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."? Yes.
What does my wife think of it? She is not a fan of the Muppets or musicals.
How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens? This adaptation makes several significant departures from the classic novel. Besides the fact that London is inhabited, in this adaptation, by talking and singing plants, animals, and Muppets, one of the first departures a viewer might notice, is the introduction of two Muppet narrators: Charles Dickens, played by Gonzo; and Rizzo the Rat. Another drastic departure is the addition of a Robert Marley. Two ghosts, played by the Muppets, Statler and Waldorf, appear to Scrooge as Jacob and Robert, also known as "Marley and Marley."
What dialect is used? Various dialects of English.
When and where does this adaptation take place? This adaptation takes place in London, circa 1840.
Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? No.
Is this adaptation supernatural? Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring ghosts and time travel, not to mention talking plants and animals.
Is this adaptation "framed"? Gonzo and Rizzo create the impression that it is framed within a lengthy conversation between the two of them about Charles Dickens, who is being played, in this adaptation, by Gonzo.
What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included?
This film includes several musical numbers, starring various muppets, Michael Caine, and Meredith Braun. Several original songs were written for this film, by Paul Williams; they include:
"Scrooge" (sung by the Muppets as Scrooge walks through the streets of London to his office)
"One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" (sung by Kermit, as Bob Cratchit)
"Marley and Marley" (sung by Statler and Waldorf, as Jacob and Robert Marley)
"It Feels Like Christmas" (sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present and again by Michael Caine, as Scrooge)
"When Love Is Gone" (sung by Michael Caine and Meredith Braun, as Scrooge and Belle)
This last song is a particularly controversial topic of discussion. For one thing, it is allegedly the first song Michael Caine sang for a film or television production.
Secondly, it was cut from the 20th Anniversary, BluRay Edition. Fans are not happy about this.
More about various editions of this film, to follow...
How attractive is the visual art?
The set, wardrobe, architecture, and art are, for the most part, excellent. Personally, I thought the Ghost of Christmas Past looks especially unprofessional, unattractive, and "unfunny." However, the Ghost of Christmas Present is exceptionally hilarious; I find it hard to imagine anyone watching his performance without laughing, or at least smiling. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was satisfactory. Marley and Marley are also hilarious. Miss Piggy and Kermit are ideal Muppets for their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit.
How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are effective. I especially like the panning view of London's rooftops during the opening credits. It was also amusing to see Gonzo and Rizzo dragged, air assault style, through the woods, dangling from Scrooge's robe, as they went back to his school.
What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, that it's a humorous, musical Muppet movie, and that it's so well done! It comes as no surprise to me that many people consider it to be one of the best adaptations of A Christmas Carol.
What extras are included on the DVD and BluRay?
I own copies of three editions of this film - two on DVD, and one on BluRay. The original edition and the 50th Anniversary Edition are on DVD. The only differences I found between them are the covers of the jewel cases and the labels on the DVDs. The 20th Anniversary BluRay is a remarkable departure, not least of all because of the deletion of Michael Caine and Meredith Braun's duet, "When Love Is Gone."
By the way, the naming of the Anniversary Editions is confusing; the original edition was released in 1992; the 50th Anniversary, in 2005; and the the 20th, seven years later, in 2012. The 50th Anniversary is based on Kermit's birthday, in 1955. According to Muppet Fandom, Kermit was created in 1955, and his character's year of birth is 1955, so the 50th Anniversary celebrated by the release of the 50th Anniversary Edition is Kermit's birthday. The film was originally released in 1992, so the 20th Anniversary Edition is in commemoration of the year the film was released.
The DVDs automatically play ads for The Lady and the Tramp, et al upon loading.
The Menu can be accessed at any time during the initial ads. It looks like a multi-paned window in Scrooge's office. Kermit appears and makes annoying remarks, nagging you to make a selection if you hesitate too long.
Options include Play, Scene Selection, Setup, and Bonus Features.
Selecting Play takes you to a submenu, asking you to select Wide or Full Screen.
Setup allows you to select English or French audio tracks, and/or optional subtitles in English.
Bonus Features include:
An audio-commentary track by the Director, Brian Henson
Outtakes and Bloopers: On the Set Gag Reel
Christmas Around the World [Australia, Czechoslavakia, England, France, and Sweden]
Pepe profiles Present - Gonzo: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo
The BluRay comes with a Digital Copy on a separate disc, which I found to be outdated and unplayable.
The BluRay itself contains all of the Bonus Features and options mentioned above, plus several more.
It also plays ads automatically upon loading, albeit different ads, including an ad for Wreck-It Ralph and Santa Paws 2. As with the DVDs, the BluRay Menu can be accessed at any time during the ads.
I have not found any opportunity to select Wide or Full Screen; it just seems to play in Full Screen mode.
The Menu is new and improved. For a background, there is the scene of London rooftops from the opening credits, with a peaceful prelude, and no annoying Muppets to nag you about making a menu selection. Furthermore, when you access the menu during the film, it appears as a sidebar while the film continues to play in the background.
Setup offers Spanish, in addition to English and French audio tracks; optional subtitles are available in those same three languages.
Additional Bonus Features include:
An audio commentary track with Kermit, Gonzo, Rizzo, et al.
Frogs, Pigs, and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Christmas Classic
Intermission, which can be turned off in the Setup, automatically plays silly vignettes when the film is paused for a certain amount of time.
Test your knowledge of this film by taking these quizzes:
Quiz 01 of [TBD]
Quiz 02 of [TBD]
Quiz 03 of [TBD]
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