My love for Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol (in all forms) runs deep. My first experience with this story was when I was really little and my Grandma took me to see it live at the Palace Theatre. Here’s how I know it was a long time ago. On our way home, we stopped at Service Merchandise to buy an end table that was also a lamp for my parents. I still remember the box coming down the conveyer belt. We had that lamp for years and it always made me think of that magical (if not a bit scary) day at the theatre.
As I was sitting in the theatre during that matinee, I was confused. First, why did a Christmas story have so many ghosts? It’s not Halloween. Also, those were some scary ghosts. I guess I only had one thought about it.
Through the years, I began to understand the significance of all the Christmas ghosts and my love for the story grew. I’ve seen a lot of versions of this story. I even directed the Alan Menken musical a few years back. But the version I watch year after year is the Muppets -probably because I’m so classy. This version has everything: the great transformation of Scrooge, scary ghosts (especially the faceless Christmas future one), and lots of great humor. Probably my favorite part of the movie is the banter between Gonzo (who plays Charles Dickens) and acts as the narrator and Rizzo the rat. They’re so funny. Like when Gonzo uses Rizzo to clean the window or as a bellows to stoke the fire. My favorite is when Gonzo’s lighting a lamp and accidentally lights Rizzo’s tail eliciting Rizzo’s “Light the lamp not the rat” line. Classic.
No muppet movie would be complete without the hecklers in the balcony, and they do not disappoint. They play Marley and Marley (though I know there’s only one Marley in the book.) Their performance makes this deviation worth it. I love them at the Fozziwig’s Christmas Party:
My speech! Here's my Christmas speech. Ahem. "Thank you all, and Merry Christmas."
That was the speech?
It was dumb!
It was obvious!
It was pointless!
It was... short!
[turns to Robert]
Jacob Marley, Robert Marley:
I loved it!
Of course love I watching Scrooge have a change of heart. That’s what the story is all about after all. But my favorite character is always Bob Cratchet. Some may call him static because remains the same, but that’s what I love about him. Bob is thankful for his life even though it seems miserable to us. Specifically in the Muppets version, he works in a cold office with a bunch of rats who make him have all the hard conversations with Scrooge. His wife (Miss Piggy) is no company picnic and his little boy is sick. And yet, he is one of the most joyful characters in the story. I hope you know this movie as well as I do and find yourself singing this song on Christmas Eve. If not, take a minute to watch this clip. If you know it, watch for the shooting star at the end.
The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first movie that was filmed after Jim Henson’s death. Steve Whitmire had the task of voicing Kermit in his absence and that shooting star and what looks like an emotional Kermit following it is a little tribute to Jim Henson. I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye on set that day. Just like yours will never be dry again watching that scene now that you know the story.
I love this movie -everything about it and I’m proud to have passed that love on to my kids. They watch it a few times every Christmas and on Christmas in July. They sing along to all the songs and when they do, I know I’ve done something right. Because this is a good story. Turning on this movie just feels like Christmas. And, though I don’t want to sound like the hecklers in the balcony, at only an hour hand a half, it’s…short.
I loved it!