The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol ★★★½

Dang. It's been a few years since I've watched this (Although I caught about twenty minutes on TV a couple of years ago, and it seemed to hold up) and I had forgotten about the dedication to Jim Henson at the very beginning. Thinking about Brian directing it and the way it focuses towards the end on Kermit/Bob Cratchit dealing with the loss of Tiny Tim is one of those things that hits like a brick, but it's not overdone - (as is Michael Caine's Scrooge--people talk about the way he treats the Muppets as people, and he does, but also he doesn't overplay Scrooge, which is interesting--in a lot of the versions of this film there seems to be the temptation to build Scrooge up into a cartoon boogeyman and have him resist the ghosts, or try to bargain and wheedle with them until he finally cracks with the third haunting, but Caine takes a different tack--his Scrooge is just a distant guy with deadened nerve endings who has always been preoccupied with the value of the dollar to the point where life is innately unfair - one expense after another bleeding out into a river of time--and he's been so focused on watching that money evaporate that he's taken his eyes off the people around him-he feels legitimately shocked to be reminded that other people exist, that Bob Cratchit has a life outside of the office, etc, and when he wakes up on Christmas and bursts into song, well--the songs aren't THAT great here, but the sincerity really does power it through, and his confrontation with Miss Piggy is the perfect length. Watching this again and seeing how good it is, and then seeing the Muppets shilling for facebook in theaters in 2019 is just depressing. (but every new Christmas is a new beginning, etc etc)

(Also, kind of surprising to the point of shocking that Brian Henson would turn around and direct The Happytime Murders as poorly as he did--not nec. because of the subject matter, but because the way he balances TONE so well here, with Scrooge's existential crisis and the more melancholy, gothic elements of the haunting contrasted with Rizzo and Gonzo/Dickens' slapstick, as well as the warmth of the Victorian streetscape community really helps emphasize the underlying strength of the concept, and one imagines that he probably could have found a balance of tone that might have worked for HAPPYTIME MURDERS as well, if they'd, uh, I don't know, cut out a couple of the jokes?

Anyhow, Merry Christmas, letterboxd!

Jay D liked these reviews