The Muppet Christmas Carol Blu-ray Review
It’s hard to go wrong with The Muppets, even during their dark ages in the 90’s. Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and the rest of our favorite characters have personalities and charms that come through no matter what situation they’re in. But things get a little wonky when The Muppets are playing other characters and things get even more out of hand when they’re trying to retell a famous Christmas story that has been told many times before. But the most frustrating thing about THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL is that director Brian Henson seemed to be completely disconnected with his target audience, making some big mistakes and missing the mark with what might be the worst Muppet movie ever made. And yes, I saw MUPPETS FROM SPACE.
Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ is one of the most cherished Christmas stories of all time. Everyone knows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge; a mean, greedy man that’s visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve that show him the error of his ways. Here, Scrooge is played by the great Michael Caine and the rest of the characters are played by Muppets. Bob Crotchet is played by Kermit, Miss Piggy plays Emily Crotchet and Gonzo is the narrator. The rest of our favorite Muppets, including Fozzie, Rizzo, Animal, The Critics and others make cameo appearances throughout, but since all of them are playing other characters, don’t expect too many “wocka-wocka’s”. Aside from a few original songs, this version of the story is the same as all the other versions, staying somewhat close to Dickens’ original story.
‘A Christmas Carol’ is obviously closely associated with Christmas time, which is often associated with little kids, but ‘A Christmas Carol’ is hardly a children’s story. Even the Mickey Mouse version can give little kids nightmares and when you add in real people with “real” ghosts, the story gets intense pretty quickly. I realize the themes Dickens dealt with are adult in nature, but if you’re going to put Muppets in the roles, it’s important to lighten it up enough so kids will enjoy it without wetting themselves. Which is why it’s confusing that Henson decided to go so serious with the story he was obviously intending kids to see. Gonzo kept things light as the narrator, but it was little consolation when every ghost made the audience want to hide under a blanket. The Ghost of Christmas’s Past looked extremely creepy, but the Ghost of Christmas Future looked like the Ringwraiths from THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which is not something that should show up in a Christmas movie aimed at kids.
I’m very biased when it comes to The Muppets because I love them so much, but even I had a really hard time getting behind this film. The musical numbers seemed forced, the content was too intense for young viewers and overall it didn’t add anything to the various incarnations of ‘A Christmas Carol’ we’ve seen over the years. If I’m going to introduce the story to a young child, I’d put in Mickey’s Christmas Carol and if I want a more adult version, I’d go with the George C. Scott version from the early 80’s.
Video: The video transfer isn’t going to blow anyone away, but for a Muppet movie from the early 90’s, it’s sufficient.
Audio: The audio gets the job done, but it’s not as crisp and clear as you might expect from a Disney Blu-ray.
Audio Commentary with Kermit the Frog, Gonzo the Great and Rizzo the Rat: One would think this would be a fun commentary to listen to, but it gets pretty annoying pretty quickly and is definitely one to skip.
Audio Commentary with director Brian Henson: This is the same commentary used in the previous DVD release, it’s definitely a more interesting track than the other, but unless you are a hardcore fan of the film you may not enjoy it.
Holiday Intermission Songs (6:58): This is the loop that plays when you pause the film for a bathroom break. It’s a cute addition and humorous to watch for a minute or two if you make it though the film without having to stop.
Frogs, Pigs and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic (21:57): A behind-the-scenes featurette that is hosted by Gonzo, Rizzo and Brian Henson.
Gonzo: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo (5:02): A look at Gonzo’s career hosted by Pepe the Prawn. I guess if you are a fan of Gonzo then you may enjoy this.
Christmas Around the World (2:58): Rizzo and Gonzo discuss the different holiday traditions around the world.
Blooper Reel (2:59): A cute gag reel featuring your favorite Muppets.