The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
December 25, 2015 10:23 AM - Subscribe

The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption on Christmas Eve.
posted by the man of twists and turns (22 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, I adore this movie.

But I always hated the Young Scrooge/random girl song about the love being gone. And when I watched this - on Netflix maybe? - recently, that song didn't appear. Did I hallucinate or did everyone else also finally realize it was crap and cut it?
posted by olinerd at 3:24 PM on December 25, 2015

It's cut! We discussed this at length in the thread a few days ago on the blue. Almost all were in favor.

We watched last night. And this morning. Michael Caine is such a treasure.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:24 PM on December 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll repeat my long comment from the other thread here:

Just watched this with my family, as is tradition. It's definitely my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. It's a combination of three things that really shouldn't work together: Muppets, the words of Charles Dickens (more words than most versions due to Gonzo the Narrator) and Michael Caine.

After watching it I usually re-read the original Dickens and I'm always surprised how much of it is used unchanged in the muppet version. And watching with a kid, I'm struck by how little they "lightened" the story -- lines like "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population" and "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart" are included verbatim. Instead of changing them they use Gonzo and Rizzo's reactions to lighten the mood.

Despite that, Michael Caine somehow makes the character likable, sad and broken rather than truly cruel.

I've seen it both with and without "When Love is Gone" -- I do miss it a bit, but I understand why it was cut. It's a long song from the POV of a character who doesn't appear in the rest of the film, and it probably drags for kids.

More importantly, it's a pretty sad movie to begin with*, and this song prolongs one of the saddest moments in the film and brings more attention to the one thing Scrooge doesn't get back -- there's no aged version of Belle waiting for him on Christmas morning, she's just gone forever.

* I mean, seriously, in a kid's movie full of muppets we have starving mice who have no cheese, then Scrooge saying people who are happy at Christmas should be killed, along with the poor, and literally throwing a poor person out of the building, then his dead friends visit and tell him what it's like to live in Hell, then we see a young version of Scrooge lose the love of his life, and then a giant happy ghost shows him a charming little handicapped frog, and then the giant happy ghost dies of old age, and then a silent, faceless spectre of death shows him lots of people being happy that Scrooge is dead, and then we watch the little handicapped frog's parents cry as they make plans for his funeral while his unused cane sits in the background, and then Scrooge looks upon his own grave and screams to God to stop this horrible future from happening...

in short, I'm amazed this film got made at all, but I'm very glad it did. And since my version of Christmas isn't all happy, this is a movie that always cheers me up...
posted by mmoncur at 10:32 PM on December 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is the only Christmas movie worth watching, IMHO! Somehow despite seeming to portray a whole bunch of nastiness it defies all the horrible nastiness of every other Christmas movie before and after.
posted by bleep at 10:50 PM on December 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

One more thing: the only reason I first re-read "A Christmas Carol" as an adult, after reading it once when school forced me to at age 13 or so, was because of this movie.

The reason: at the end Gonzo says "And to Tiny Tim, who DID NOT DIE, Scrooge became like a second father." And he pronounces "DID NOT DIE" in a very exaggerated Muppet way. So I was convinced that this was something they modified, with a wink, from the original story, so that it could have a happy Muppet ending.

Of course I checked, and found the line was exactly what Dickens said, so instead of the Muppets modifying Dickens it was more like Dickens had just written the story in a Muppet-ish style in the first place.

Anyway, I read all of Dickens' work since then, and he's one of my favorite writers, and I weirdly have this movie to thank for that.
posted by mmoncur at 11:04 PM on December 25, 2015 [11 favorites]

I watched this with my five year old the other night and was surprised that he wasn't scared or bored by it. This movie remains a delight, even if my son spent a while repeating endlessly "light the lamp, not the rat! light the lamp, not the rat!"
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:10 PM on December 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

even if my son spent a while repeating endlessly "light the lamp, not the rat! light the lamp, not the rat!"

This movie is so wonderful. Rizzo and Gonzo are such a great team.

"You know that fruit is wax?"
posted by janepanic at 10:31 AM on December 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I liked that they cast the movie in a way that suited the established characters of the respective Muppets. It made for a satisfying subtext. Kermit, who is high strung and managerial, made an anxious and burdened Bob Cratchit. Miss Piggy, as Mrs. Cratchit, was secretly pigging out on the roast chestnuts. Professional hecklers Statler and Waldorf became a caustic pair of Marley brothers.

Scrooge: Don't make fun of me! You always made fun of me!"
One of the Marley brothers: "It's good to be making fun of you again!"
The other Marley brother: "It's good to be doing anything again!"
posted by orange swan at 2:02 PM on December 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I still have not fully accepted that the Marley Brothers isn't canon.
posted by bleep at 5:59 PM on December 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

I still remember the moment I made the connection that the second Marley brother had been named Robert Marley as a reference to Bob Marley. I feel that the Muppets provide a valuable public service in allowing kids to have these sorts of epiphanies where a number of pop culture ideas they're vaguely familiar with come together and make a joke work. It was such a great feeling.

I remember my mom not being all that impressed with me for figuring that out. As a parent of young children I resolved to be fucking DELIGHTED when my kids come to me with these little syntheses they've noticed.
posted by town of cats at 10:12 PM on December 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

Ha! Despite this being an annual re-watch for me, I never picked up on the Bob Marley thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:01 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Don't feel bad, Mr. Freedom had to point that out to me, and this is MY favorite movie! He had never watched it before I introduced him to it, and he was instantly like, "Oh, haha, Bob Marley!"
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:34 AM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

You guys just made nine-year-old-me's YEAR.
posted by town of cats at 3:39 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have mixed feelings about this movie. I'm anti-Christmas as a rule, so anything that sings the praises of the holiday gets my hackles up. ("Wherever You Find Love, It Feels Like Christmas"? Yeesh!) Plus I care very deeply about the Muppets, and this was the first major Muppet production after Jim Henson died, so that was another strike against it.

But these are personal objections, so it's hard to say they matter. I love how closely it hews to Dickens' text, including the grimmest passages. The jokes, both overt and subtle, work. And "Marley and Marley" is such a delightful villain song that it warms my cold, hard heart.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:19 AM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

I kind of feel the same way, I'm not into Christmas at all. But I make an exception for this film, assuming that the "Christmas" it talks about is something pure and wonderful and way better than the one I experience. It's like an alternate Christmas universe where it's all about love and caring. Heck, there's not one hint of Santa Claus or any traditional Christmas songs* in the film.

I also like how the film avoids saying anything overtly Christian. (Dickens mostly does too.) It makes it work for me despite my atheism. Bob does say that Tiny Tim wants to remind everyone of "who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see" but I just figure they're talking about doctors...

Unrelated: I love how it keeps my favorite jokes from the Dickens version. "More of gravy than of grave" and "Couldn't I just have all three spirits at once and get it over with?"

* OK, to be technical, I think a rabbit sings a bit of "Good King Wenceslas" before Scrooge slams the door in his face.
posted by mmoncur at 2:52 PM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

even if my son spent a while repeating endlessly "light the lamp, not the rat! light the lamp, not the rat!"

I was much older than five the first time I saw this movie, and did the exact same thing your son did.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 5:18 PM on December 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

We did my annual rewatch last night. I love this movie so much. This is my favorite incarnation of the muppets (as an ensemble; obviously Henson's Kermit is my favorite Kermit). Gonzo, especially, is just wonderful in this, having the time of his life, as it were.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:21 AM on January 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've just watched the first episode of Dickensian, a new BBC drama which mashes together Dickens characters. For the first 5 minutes I was super confused as to why Scrooge only had one partner....

Multiple Marley's make so much sense to me that if I had a time machine I might be tempted to go back to Dickens and persuade him to change it.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:52 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

14 Things You Might Not Know About The Muppet Christmas Carol

Michael Caine Loves The Muppet Christmas Carol as Much as You Do
Well I didn’t know I could sing as well as it turned out! I mean it wasn’t bad, I wasn’t ashamed of it. I thought I was going to make a fool of myself but it didn’t matter, because it’s Muppets, you know. Scrooge sings badly, and it’s fine! It’s funny! But I thought we sang quite well as a duet, Kermit and me. There was one extraordinary thing: I was directed in one of my favorite movies, called Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, by Miss Piggy! Miss Piggy, also known as Frank Oz. directed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
No shit.
That’s one of the most successful comedies I ever made, directed by Miss Piggy.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:45 PM on December 4, 2017

14 Things You Might Not Know About The Muppet Christmas Carol

Holy shit, the Ghost of Christmas Past was a puppet (filmed underwater for the flowy fabric effect)? I thought it was animated!

Back in this thread because it's nearly time for the annual re-watch.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:46 AM on December 11, 2018

Just had a post-Thanksgiving rewatch of this, it is still a darn fine movie.
posted by tavella at 11:56 PM on November 27, 2021

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