The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Whilst Australia waits patiently for the release of The Muppets, we can always fall back on Jim Henson’s back catalogue.

Unless you’re too full of tryptophan from the previous days feasting,  the plot to The Muppet Christmas Carol is well known. Ebeneezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) is visited by three spirits over the course of Christmas Eve, who help to bring back his festive joy.

As to be expected, aside from Caine, most of the main parts are played by the titular gang. So, we have Kermit as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife, The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens, Statler and Waldorf as the brothers Jacob and Robert Marley (Yeah, I know…), even Kermit’s nephew gets in on the action as Tiny Tim. The spirits are new creations, with the Henson team having resisted the temptation to have them played by others in the Muppet canon. A move that works well. It’s hard to think the resonance of Scrooge seeing his potential would have been as strong if the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come had been played by original choice, Gonzo!

Despite the prefix, Muppet, in the title, this is a very straightforward telling of Dicken’s classic. It’s not in the same vein as, say, The Great Muppet Caper, where Fozzie et al would break the fourth wall and give plot points away before they happen Caine recites lines from the set text with barely a knowing glance to the camera. However, don’t think it’s all straight faces, this is the Muppets. Expect talking vegetables, ice skating penguins, and hardcore republican Sam the Eagle desperately pretending to be English.

All in all, it’s a wonderful 90 minutes and deserves to be on anybody’s list of Christmas viewing. But beware, as this is a straight-ish tale… Tiny Tim will die. If you thought you couldn’t be moved by a felt pig and frog, then think again.

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