|Poster by the Master (aka Drew Struzan)|
The Muppet Christmas Carol (in case you’re from another dimension and haven’t heard one of the 236,702 versions of it) retells Dickens' classic tale of miserly bastard Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by three Christmas spirits with a cast of Muppets and Michael Caine. At times it seems a bit of a forced mish-mash with the typical Muppet madness juxtaposed with Dickens' darkness. But all your favourites (bar Sweetums) make an appearance: from Fozzie and Kermit to the violent babies and singing vegetables.
Speaking of singing, the songs littered throughout are fine enough I guess. They're not anywhere on par with It's Not Easy Being Green or The Rainbow Connection, but those would be tough to match. Frankly, the songs aren’t all that memorable and occasionally get in the way of goings on. They’re not helped by Michael Caine occasionally looking a bit lost amongst all the singing and dancing Muppets. Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie was in attendance at the session and I’m sure he’s going to bring something special to the songs in the upcoming Muppet Movie.
After that last paragraph you may be thinking I didn’t enjoy the movie and spent the runtime slouched in my seat, muttering “Bah! Humbug”! Why, dear reader, nothing could be further from the truth! This are piffling gripes! The Muppets are as joyful to watch as ever and Brian Henson, the son of the famous founder, marks his feature length directing debut. While he may not carry the same spark as his dad, he’s certainly more than up to the task. Michael Caine plays his Scrooge dead straight with nary a nudge or a wink to the Muppetry ensuing around him. This works particularly well in the scenes with the Spirits of Christmases Past and Yet to Come; the imposing, cloaked Spirit of the latter is a fantastic indication of just what the Henson Company could really achieve.
Seeing this, at the movies with an appreciative audience (and filled with kids - more than a few brought long because of their parents' love for The Muppets I'm sure) was a real joy. I'm a big-time Muppet fan and cannot wait for the new Muppet movie. This was a timely reminder of just how much I miss seeing these felt characters up on the big screen.