|Directed by:||Brian Henson|
|Written by:|| Charles Dickens (author)|
Jerry Juhl (screenplay)
|Release date:||December 11, 1992|
|Running time:|| 1 hour, 25 minutes (theatrical version)|
1 hour, 29 minutes (extended version)
|Available on:|| VHS|
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 film starring Michael Caine and the Muppets in the classic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol. It is notably the first feature film to star the Muppets following after the deaths of Muppets creator Jim Henson and fellow puppeteer Richard Hunt; as such, the film was dedicated to the memory of both Henson and Hunt. It is also the second of three theatrical films released by Walt Disney Pictures based on the story, between Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983 and Robert Zemeckis' CGI influenced version in 2009.
In this adaptation of the Christmas story, narrated by Gonzo as Charles Dickens (with the occasional commentary of Rizzo the Rat), it is Christmas Eve in 19th century London. The merriment is not shared by Ebenezer Scrooge (portrayed by Michael Caine), a surly money-lender who is more interested in profit than celebration. He is so cold to the season of giving that his book-keeping staff, including loyal employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog), has to plead with him just to have the day off work during Christmas by pointing out that Scrooge would have no customers on the holiday and that it would waste coal to sit alone in the office. Scrooge's nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh), arrives to invite his uncle to Christmas dinner, and two gentlemen (Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker) also come to Scrooge's offices, collecting money in the spirit of the season to provide a Christmas dinner for the poor. Scrooge rebuffs his nephew and complains that it is not worth looking after the poor, as their deaths will decrease the surplus population. Fred is shocked at his uncle's uncharitable and cold nature, but repeats his invitation, makes his own donation, and departs.
Later that evening, Scrooge finds himself face to face with the still mean-spirited spirits of his former business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf), who have been condemned to shackles in the afterlife as payment for the horrible deeds they committed in life. Nonetheless, they warn him that he will share the same fate, only worse, if he does not change his ways, and foretell the arrival of three spirits throughout the night.
Scrooge is first visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (voiced by Jessica Fox), a childlike specter who takes Scrooge on a journey back through time to his youth. He recalls his early school days, during which he focused on his studies; meeting of a young woman named Belle (Meredith Braun), with whom he would later fall in love; and the end of their relationship, despite Scrooge's protests that he would marry her as soon as he feels he has enough money to provide for them, but Belle knows he will most likely never have that, given his birthing obsession with money.
Scrooge then meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, a large, festive spirit with a booming voice who lives only for the here and now. He gives Scrooge a glimpse into the holiday celebration of others, including Bob Cratchit, and his family who, although poor, are enjoying Christmas together and reveling in the anticipation of the Christmas goose. The Spirit also shows Scrooge's own family, who are not above cracking jokes at Scrooge's expense.
Finally, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a silent entity who reveals the chilling revelation that young Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog) will not survive the coming year, thanks in no small part to the impoverished existence of the Cratchit family. Furthermore, it is revealed that when Scrooge's own time has passed, others will certainly delight in his absence from the world. Upon seeing his headstone in the cemetery, it is the final epiphany that convinces Scrooge to change his ways, and makes him vow to celebrate with his fellow man.
Scrooge returns to his bedroom on Christmas Day, and he goes about the town spreading good deeds and charity. He enlists the help of Bean Bunny, at whom he threw a wreath earlier in the film, and the two travel around the town gathering items for a Christmas feast and giving gifts to characters who had previously been wronged by Scrooge. Scrooge tells his assistant, Bob Cratchit, that he is going to raise his salary, and pay for his house mortgage. He also plans a feast for Cratchit's family, and learns to adopt the spirit of Christmas throughout the year, now encouraged by the addition of new friends.
Songs featured in the film include:
- "Scrooge" - Cast
- "Good King Wenceslas" - Bean Bunny
- "One More Sleep 'til Christmas" - Kermit
- "Marley and Marley" - Statler and Waldorf
- "When Love is Gone" - Belle (video releases only)
- "It Feels Like Christmas" - The Ghost of Christmas Present
- "Christmas Scat" - Kermit & Robin
- "Bless Us All" - Robin & Cast
- "Thankful Heart" - Scrooge
- "Finale - When Love is Found/It Feels Like Christmas (reprise)" - Cast
One of the songs, "When Love is Gone", was cut from the film's original theatrical release, because the filmmakers found that the test audiences (mainly family viewers with younger children) become restless during the scene in question. When the movie was released on VHS and Laserdisc in the US and the UK the following year, "When Love is Gone" was reinstated, since the filmmakers decided it worked better in a home-viewing context. Subsequent video releases of the film have included the song, with the 2005 DVD release also containing the original theatrical version. However, the United Kingdom's DVD release did not include the song.
Two extra songs were also written for the film by Paul Williams - "Room in Your Heart" (sung by Bunsen and Beaker), and "Chairman of the Board" (sung by Sam the Eagle). These two songs were dropped from the script early on because the filmmakers felt the film was already going to be quite lengthy, that the songs didn't help progress the story, and that they would hurt the overall pacing and feel of the film. However, the songs were included on the film's soundtrack album.
Home video releases
After its original theatrical release, The Muppet Christmas Carol was released on VHS and Laserdisc in the United States on September 10, 1993, and in the UK on November 19th of the same year. Disney later released the movie on DVD in 2002. In addition to the pan-and-scan "home video edit" of the film, the DVD contained the following bonus features: an audio commentary by director Brian Henson, a 22-minute making-of documentary, an educational featurette about worldwide Christmas traditions starring Gonzo and Rizzo, and a blooper reel.
Three years later, Disney released the film on DVD again, this time labeled as a "Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition" release. The 2005 DVD featured the film in both its original theatrical cut (presented in widescreen) and the home video edit (presented in pan-and-scan), and it also contained most of the previous DVD's releases (with the strange exception of the making-of documentary) as well as a new "Pepe's Profiles" featurette profiling Gonzo.
A 20th Anniversary Blu-ray / Digital Copy combo pack was released on November 6, 2012, alongside a new DVD release. The Blu-ray contains all of the bonus features from the previous two DVD releases, plus a second audio commentary by the Muppets; however, the film is presented without the "When Love is Gone" song. A combo pack containing the DVD, the Blu-ray, and the Digital Copy was also made available exclusively on Amazon.com.
|Michael Caine||Ebenezer Scrooge|
|Edward Sanders||Young Scrooge (Child 1)|
|Theo Sanders||Young Scrooge (Child 2)|
|Kristopher Milnes||Young Scrooge (Child 3)|
|Russell Martin||Young Scrooge (Adolescent)|
|Raymond Coulthard||Young Scrooge (Adult)|
|Anthony Hamblin||Boy #1|
|Fergus Brazier||Boy #2|
|Dave Goelz|| Charles Dickens (Gonzo)|
Robert Marley (Waldorf)
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
|Steve Whitmire|| Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog)|
Rizzo the Rat
|Frank Oz|| Emily Cratchit (Miss Piggy)|
Fozziwig (Fozzie Bear)
The Headmaster (Sam the Eagle)
George the janitor
|Jerry Nelson|| Tiny Tim (Robin)|
Jacob Marley (Statler)
The Ghost of Christmas Present
|David Rudman|| Peter Cratchit|
The Swedish Chef
Beggar on crutch
|Karen Prell|| Daughter Mouse|
The Ghost of Christmas Past
|Mike Quinn|| Pig businessman|
|Louise Gold|| Cockney woman|
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