When he wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, author Charles Dickens had no way of knowing that his book would be turned into literally dozens of different stage and screen adaptations. And, even if had possessed such remarkable foresight, it is certain that he never would have envisioned his character, Bob Cratchit, portrayed by a lovable green frog with ping-pong ball eyes.
Released in 1992, The Muppet Christmas Carol is everything that one has come to expect from Muppet film – songs, one-liners and, most importantly, lots and lots of Muppets. Just about everyone in the Muppet arsenal gets some screen time, from Fozzie to the Swedish Chef, Sam the Eagle to Bunsen and Beaker. Narrated by the Great Gonzo (playing the role of Dickens) and occasional comic relief by Rizzo the Rat, the story is pretty true to the original, just a lot more fun.
Michael Caine, the only star in the film who doesn’t have felt skin, convincingly plays the role of the cantankerous Ebenezer Scrooge, a tyrant who only grants his employees a reprieve for Christmas Day because there aren’t any other businesses that are open. One such worker, Bob Cratchit (Kermit) heads home to spend the holidays with his lovely wife (Miss Piggy, of course) and their children, which include poor Tiny Tim.
Meanwhile, bitter old Scrooge heads off to his own abode, a cold and dreary house that is about to receive some visitors. His long-dead business associates (Statler and Waldorf) appear as apparitions and proceed to torment the old geezer. They are the first in a line of familiar ghosts, including the ghost of Christmas Present and Yet to Come. Each do their part to convince Scrooge of the errors of his ways, and eventually soften his feelings about this whole Christmas thing.
The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first film directed by Jim Henson’s son, Brian, following the iconic muppeteer’s untimely death in 1990. Songwriter, Paul Williams (best known for The Love Boat theme) handles all of the intermittent musical numbers. The film strikes a perfect balance between the often-morose source material and the wacky antics the Muppets are known and loved for. All in all, this is a fine offering for any fan of the furry felt friends and one can only hope that good ol’ Charles Dickens was looking down and smiling.
If you have fond memories of experiencing Dickens through the mind of Jim Henson, we’d love to hear all your memories of The Muppet Christmas Carol in our comments section.