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Treasured ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ Is a Must-See Movie

Treasured 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' Is a Must-See Movie IMG_9336

Grab some snacks and pile on the couch to settle in and watch the best Christmas movie there is. Yes, I stand by it, the best. It is our family’s favorite, and I hope yours as well. We enjoy a variety of holiday movies and often rotate the ones we watch from year to year. However, The Muppet Christmas Carol is the one we can’t miss each year. Settle in for one hour and 26 minutes of drama, comedy and everything else in between. Rated G, this Christmas classic is perfect for the entire family.

We have owned this DVD for years, a release to celebrate Kermit’s 50th Anniversary. I’m glad that the movie is now also available on Disney+ for audiences to enjoy. The Muppet Christmas Carol debuted in 1992 and was Brian Henson’s first feature film as a director. Let’s take a short trip down memory lane and reminisce about why this is such a great film.

The Muppets (and Humans)

Let’s begin with who does what. The Great Gonzo serves in the role of Charles Dickens, the narrator. True to the story, Gonzo often recites direct passages from the original novella published in 1843. Rizzo the Rat’s character was added as a side-kick of sorts, to co-narrator and add comedic elements throughout. Who can forget some of Rizzo’s famous lines like “Mother always taught me, ‘Never eat singing food” and “Light the lamp, not the rat!”

We soon meet Ebeneezer Scrooge, played by the incomparable actor Michael Caine. He recently retired from acting, and looking back over his eight-decade career, this movie proved to be one of his best performances. I recently read that he decided to take the role of Scrooge because of his seven-year-old child. Michael had some wonderful things to say in a 2016 GQ magazine article titled “Michael Cain Loves The Muppet Christmas Carol as Much as You Do.” He said, “I could make it, and my daughter could see it. That’s why I did it. And it was lovely.”

This film boasted over 60 cast members as performers and/or voice actors. Here are just a few examples of how just three legendary Muppeteers brought to life over 20 characters in the film:

  • Dave Goelz voices The Great Gonzo (Charles Dickens), Waldorf (Robert Marley), Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (Charity Collector), Betina Cratchit and the voice of Zoot.
  • Frank Oz voices Miss Piggy (Emily Cratchit), Fozzie Bear (Fozziewig), Sam the Eagle (Headmaster), Animal (Party Band Member), George the Janitor, Horse & Carriage Driver and voice of a Vegetable Salesman.
  • Steve Whitmire voices Kermit (Bob Cratchit), Rizzo the Rat (Co-Narrator), Beaker (Charity Collector), Bean Bunny (Boy), Belinda Cratchit, Beetle, Lips and the voice of Pig Gentleman.

The Story

The movie faithfully follows the original story of how the miserly and ill-tempered Scrooge is visited by a series of Christmas spirits and transforms into a kind and thoughtful man. This film absolutely appeals to children, but it was not made only for them. The beauty is that it was fashioned for all ages. In fact, Michael Caine said in a 2015 article on the making of the film, “I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role.”

This master class in drama is also balanced out with copious amounts of comic relief strewn throughout. Much of the humor comes in the form of twists on dialogue that only The Muppets can accomplish with their own unique style and delivery. An ideal example is when Sam the Eagle (Headmaster) is talking to young Ebeneezer about going forth into the world to work hard and do well. Sam, ever patriotic, says “You will love business; it is the American way!” After Gonzo whispers in his ear, Sam corrects himself and says, “Oh… it is the British way!” Other humorous times come in the choice of which Muppets play what roles. A great example is Fozzy Bear, who plays Fozziewig (Mr. Fezziwig) and is the owner of a rubber chicken factory. Now, that is inspired casting.

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The Music

Paul Williams, renowned composer and singer, was tapped to write the music for The Muppet Christmas Carol. Paul had worked with Jim Henson Productions years before when he co-wrote the song Rainbow Connection for the original Muppet Movie in 1979. In a 2022 article for Entertainment Weekly, he eloquently put into words what this new holiday opportunity meant to him. “Writing the songs for this movie and experiencing the extreme gratitude of being back at work on something that I loved – with people that I loved – is beyond my ability to really express.”

He explained that his admiration of Jim Henson stretched as far back as The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s. Additionally, Paul said he was a big fan of the television show Sesame Street and watched it with his bandmates while on the road touring in the 1970s. Consequently, to go on to work with The Muppets over the course of many decades to follow was a perfect match. Paul Williams wrote the music and lyrics to so many wonderful songs for The Muppet Christmas Carol, including “Marley and Marley,” “It Feels Like Christmas,” and “Thankful Heart.” I adore all of the songs, but “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas,” sung by Kermit and Robin Frog as Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, is my absolute favorite. It’s simple, melodic, and joyful – perfect in every way.

The Lasting Appeal of This Endearing Classic

In closing, I will leave you with more insight from Paul Williams. During his interview, he said, “Writing for Kermit is very much writing for a layered, interesting personality and definitely an old soul.” This quote is so poignant and really sums up the enduring legacy of Kermit and The Muppets as a whole. Their appeal and charm are timeless.

Do you and your family watch The Muppet Christmas Carol each year? Do you have a favorite character, scene or song? We would love to hear your thoughts on this remarkable film.

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