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Brian Henson
Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, David Rudman, Louise Gold
Writing Credits:
Charles Dickens (novel), Jerry Juhl

'Tis the season for love, laughter, and one of the most cherished stories of all time! Join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and all the hilarious Muppets in this merry, magical version of Charles Dickens' classic tale. Academy Award winner Michael Caine gives a performance that's anything but "bah, humbug!" as greedy, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge. One fateful Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Together with kind, humble Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) and his family, the Spirits open Scrooge's eyes - and his heart - to the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with original music and dazzling special effects, this restored and remastered 50th Anniversary Edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol will become a holiday tradition your family will treasure all the days of the year.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$27.281 million.

Rated G

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 11/29/2005

• Audio Commentary with Director Brian Henson
• Gag Reel
• “Pepe Profiles Presents: Gonzo – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo”
• “Christmas Around the World”
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Muppet Christmas Carol: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 30, 2005)

What with eight zillion versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol out there, how do you make a new adaptation different? In some cases, folks chose to use fictional characters to play the role. Apparently, it also helps if these products accentuate the letter “M”. Mickey Mouse has his version of the story, as does Mr. Magoo. Add the Muppets to that pile, as we find in 1992’s A Muppet Christmas Carol.

Since every edition of Carol uses the same story, every review I do of it features the same plot synopsis. Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) runs his own business and is clearly a skinflint and a jerk. Isolated from others by his own accord, on Christmas Eve the misanthrope receives a visit from the ghost of Robert and Jacob Marley (Statler and Waldorf/Dave Goelz and Jerry Nelson), his old partners. Condemned to remain in limbo, Marley warns Scrooge that he’ll suffer the same fate if he doesn’t clean up his act.

Scrooge initially discounts this incident, but then he receives additional visits from other ghosts. One takes him to Scrooge accompanies Christmas Past (Tygner/Karen Prell/William Todd Jones/Jessica Fox), where he watches his childhood experiences and recalls how much he used to love the season.

From there he goes with Christmas Present (Nelson/Donald Austen), where he sees the poor but loving family of his employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog/Steve Whitmire). Scrooge learns that Cratchit’s son Tiny Tim (Nelson) will die without significant medical attention. He also sees the festivities of his merry nephew Fred (Steven Mackintosh). Lastly, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Austen/Rob Tygner) shows Scrooge his own fate as well as that of Tiny Tim. When the ghosts finish with Scrooge, he changes his ways and becomes a barrel of laughs.

How does the Muppet Carol set itself apart from other versions? For one, this edition comes with active narration. We get Gonzo (Goelz) as Charles Dickens. He leads us through the tale with accompaniment from his rat sidekick Rizzo (Whitmire).

The Muppet flick also presents a nice sense of insouciance usually absent from these renditions. There’s a fun sense of self-reference and wackiness at play here that take the tale from its usual dowdy roots and make it lively. The Muppets don’t pour on goofiness every second of the way, as they know when to back off and take things more seriously. Nonetheless, the sense of playful comedy adds a fun tone to the proceedings.

Conversely, the fact that the humans play things straight also benefits the film. Caine makes an excellent Scrooge largely because he presents a more subdued presence than we expect in that role. Usually Scrooges ham it up but good. Caine, on the other hand, underplays the part. This makes him more believable and helps humanize the Muppet-filled setting. A flick with too much silliness would go off-course, so Caine’s efforts to ground the material help quite a bit.

I find this to be a very well-rounded take on Carol. Obviously I very much like its humor, but it delivers the appropriate emotion as well. Who thought that the off-screen death of a frog puppet would evoke any feelings? In this flick, it does so.

That’s just one of the reasons The Muppet Christmas Carol is a winner. It does almost everything right and makes few missteps along the way. Admittedly, I could live without the songs, but they’re brief and bolster the material acceptably well. I really like this Carol and think it’s one of the best versions of the material I’ve seen.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

The Muppet Christmas Carol appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. I didn’t expect much from this transfer, so that meant the solid visuals came as a pleasant surprise.

Very rarely did I encounter any issues with sharpness. The vast majority of the flick demonstrated concise, distinctive images. A little softness crept into some wider shots, but those didn’t cause distractions. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and I also didn’t discern edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I witnessed a handful of specks and marks. Those didn’t interfere often and stayed minimal.

Colors worked nicely. With a winter setting, the palette stayed subdued but still managed reasonably lively tones. The colors always looked warm and inviting. Blacks seemed deep and dense. Shadows could be slightly too heavy, but they never became truly problematic and usually were clear and visible. Overall this movie boasted a very satisfying transfer.

While I felt less impressed by the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Muppet Christmas Carol, I thought it did what it needed to do. The soundfield was a modest affair. The most active scenes came during the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. We got some thunder and rain along with spooky effects, all of which blended well with the surrounds.

Otherwise the mix concentrated on the front and usually offered general ambience. The music showed good stereo imaging, and the whole package mixed together smoothly. The rear speakers mostly reinforced the forward elements and added a little dimensionality to the track.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech always sounded concise and distinctive, as no lines suffered from edginess or other problems. Music presented good bounce and clarity. They didn’t tax the speakers but the score and songs seemed appropriately full. Effects also rarely stood out from the crowd. The smattering of louder elements offered nice heft, but usually things stayed subdued. Nonetheless, those bits were tight and accurate. This was a more than decent soundtrack for this kind of film.

While not chock full of extras, a few components flesh out Carol. One will irk widescreen fans. If you watch the fullscreen version of the film, you can see it with an extra scene. This starts at the 44-minute and 50-second point in the flick and offers a tune from Belle about her breakup with young Scrooge.

Should it have stayed in the film? I’m not sure. On one hand, it slows the story and doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know. On the other, it adds some heft to Scrooge’s pain and also allows some other scenes to make more sense. For instance, when Rizzo sobs after Belle splits, his pain seems more logical than during her quick “see ya!” to Scrooge in the theatrical cut.

In addition, we find an Audio Commentary with Director Brian Henson. He offers a running, screen-specific chat. He mainly focuses on technical topics as he relates all the challenges involved in filming Muppets, especially when they interact with humans. He also discusses casting, choosing what Muppets to use in various roles, songs and score, adapting the Dickens story, the added song, editing and cinematographic choices. We even find out why the Muppet personnel hate Bean Bunny. Henson goes silent too much of the time, but he offers more than enough good information to make this a worthwhile commentary.

A Gag Reel lasts two minutes, 33 seconds. Some are staged while others are legit. None of them are terribly amusing.

For more silliness, we get Pepe Profiles Presents: Gonzo – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo. This five-minute and 29-second piece is “hosted” by the strange prawn Pepe as he chats about Gonzo’s work and history. He chats with Gonzo himself and we get some comments from Muppets like Kermit, Fozzie and Miss Piggy. It’s not packed with laughs, but it has some funny moments.

Christmas Around the World goes for two minutes and 58 seconds. In this Gonzo and Rizzo chat about different holiday traditions from various locations. It lacks substance but it seems cute and entertaining.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Lady and the Tramp, The Wild Shaggy Dog, The Muppet Show Season One and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Kronk’s New Groove, Sing Along Songs Volume 3/Disney’s Learning Adventures and JoJo’s Circus.

Given the existence of eight million other adaptations of the Dickens story, is there any reason to see A Muppet Christmas Carol? Yes – it’s a lot of fun. It also provides a rich and surprisingly true retelling of the tale, and it works awfully well. The DVD presents very good picture along with acceptable sound and a smattering of extras highlighted by a generally good audio commentary. Grab this DVD and add it to your holiday viewing list.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.8076 Stars Number of Votes: 26
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