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The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Director: Brian Henson
Screenwriter: Jerry Juhl
Starring: Michael Caine, Kermit the Frog, The Great Gonzo, Rizzo the Rat, Steven Mackintosh
Release details: Touchstone, USA 1992, 110mins
Full details: IMDb
Genre: Muppet Christmas film
Rating: 9 out of 10

No surprises here - this is Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, given the Muppets' own unique spin. There are some spectacular music numbers, complete with dancing penguins, plenty of jokes, comedy rats and even a few nice in-jokes (check out the shops of old London town - one of them's called Micklewhite's). It is also surprisingly close to the source material given how dark a tale A Christmas Carol really is (as a small child, I was always afraid of the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come in the Alistair Sim version).

Michael Caine is suitably grumpy as Scrooge and conveys the journey from miser to benefactor with a quite touching performance which never becomes a parody. He even has a couple of musical numbers of his own, one of which is a surprisingly tender moment where he laments letting money come before love. The outstanding Steven Mackintosh (who should be a much bigger star than he already is) injects the right amount of enthusiasm as Scrooge's relentlessly cheery nephew, Fred. But it's the duo of The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens himself, here narrating the tale, and Rizzo the Rat as his sidekick, who really steal the show, providing most of the laughs and keeping the story moving.

Rounding off the cast are Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Mrs Cratchit and Fozzi the Bear as Fozziwig, Scrooge's first employer and owner of a rubber chicken factory, naturally. Also watch for Stadler and Waldorf as the Marley Brothers and some scene-stealing mice. It's a testament to the Muppeteers' art that you never once question the fact that these are, after all, strange felt creatures occupying most of the roles.

The best of the Muppets' output since the Muppets Take Manhattan, this is a family film which adults can enjoy as much as - if not more so - than the kids.

Reviews

They take us on a journey through a dank London, filled with all your favourite Muppets and a lot of talking vegetables too!... BBC Film

Caine is the latest of many human actors (including the great Orson Welles) to fight for screen space with the Muppets, and he sensibly avoids any attempt to go for a laugh. He plays the role straight, and treats the Muppets as if they are real... Roger Ebert

Links

There's a few official Muppets/Henson sites:

In fact, Kermit is important enough to be housed in the Smithsonian Institute. He also has his own mini-fansite.

The League of Obscure British Actors has many links to Steven Mackintosh sites and interviews.


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