Movie Reviews: More A Christmas Carol

For the holiday season, the entire homeschool co-op read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I have already reviewed this book and also a couple of the movies related to it. I also listed some more movies that are adapted from it. I imagined I would have time this year to watch all of these, but I sure didn’t. My son and I (who was reading the book, remember?) watched The Muppet Christmas Carol because I hadn’t seen it in a long time and thought perhaps he would be interested. He actually did wander in near the beginning and watch it with me. Then in class (which has limited time), my ninth grade-ish boys convinced me to turn on Mickey’s Christmas Carol right after the paper snowball fight while we snacked on our Christmas pudding with virgin hard sauce, our mince pies, our marzipan animals, oyster dip, tea punch, and roasted chestnuts. Then later, one night, I managed to sit down in the family room and turn on The Man Who Invented Christmas. (I almost watched The Invisible Woman—about Charles Dickens’ long affair with Nelly Turnan, but it cost money so I went to bed.)

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

I already gave a few-sentence review for this elsewhere, but let’s be more thorough as the movie is fresh-ish in our mind. And I’ll start here: you’re either a Muppet person or you are not. You could become one, but you can’t be somewhere in-between at any given time. I grew up with The Muppets, especially The Muppet Show and our annual Sunbeam sleepover where we watched Muppet movies all night on a sea of sleeping bags and dropped popcorn. I, therefore, have very pleasant memories of the Muppets and I grew up seeing on-screen puppetry as a normal and admirable artform. I like all the Muppet movies (from The Muppet Movie (1979) to Muppets Most Wanted (2014)). Still, I don’t remember especially liking The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s darker than the others, and, well, Gonzo and Rizzo were never my favorite Muppets (nor Miss Piggy, actually). Now that I’m older and have read A Christmas Carol a few times, I found myself really appreciating this version of the story. Rizzo’s antics aside, the story was very true to the original story for a children’s movie done with animal puppets and I found myself marveling at what was accomplished with puppets. Jim Henson wasn’t going to do a shoddy thing, and I think his thoroughness really shines in Christmas Carol. I also enjoy a good musical, and there are some great musical numbers in this one. If you are, or can be, a Muppet person, this is one of the best adaptations to watch.

MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL

It’s less than 25 minutes, so… This is, I think, why the boys bugged me about watching it in class. This is definitely why I gave in and let them watch it. Well, that and I knew there couldn’t be anything for parents to object to. It’s meant for like five-year-olds. I was surprised, though, by how much I enjoyed it, though I believe I can attribute some of that enjoyment to the nostalgia of anything classic Mickey Mouse. Obviously, I grew up with Mickey Mouse, big time, like any other American kid in the eighties and nineties. I’m sure I have owned Disney objects in the hundreds through the course of my life. And the soft, classic feel of Christmas Carol is like a warm hug, for me. It captures much of the story in such a ridiculously short time, so acts as a great introduction to the story for children. A quick, solid watch for—like a said before—sandwiching between Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas (or even Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. I’m not such a fan of Frosty the Snowman).

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS

I have been looking forward to this since it came out. It is doubly applicable to The Starving Artist blog because it fits into two categories: movies based on books and movies about writing. It’s not really based on a book, but it is about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol and is, according to the title, about how that affected our modern celebration of Christmas. I found the title to be a little misleading. While the YouTube videos that I showed my homeschool class did tell us how A Christmas Carol re-invented Christmas for generations to come, the movie had this as more of a whiff, a backdrop. Of course I am intrigued by movies about authors and I love Victorian England and A Christmas Carol, but that couldn’t save this movie from a slight drag and a complete lack of levity/magical feel. The movie didn’t feel in the least like Christmas. It didn’t even feel all that gothic. To be honest, it looked great and was acted well but it just never took off and made you feel much of anything. And there is so much speculation about these random run-ins that Dickens has with people and situations that will inspire his writing of A Christmas Carol, I felt like I was missing an education in an author and process that was already interesting enough, for the fancy of the movie’s writer. In other words, I couldn’t really tell fact from fiction and I suspected it was way more fiction that fact (which didn’t need to be). I am being much harder on this movie than either the critics or the audiences were. It gets consistently good reviews and honestly I wouldn’t object to watching it again. But for me, it had all the pieces but it never got off the ground. If you’re interested, you should watch it, though. It’s more than a decent movie.

For another year, there are still a number of A Christmas Carol movies to watch (with a list HERE).

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