The Muppet Christmas Carol

Jim Henson is gone, but in the Disney spirit of immortality Jim Henson Productions lives on. Jim’s son Brian directed this 1992 musical version of the Dickens story, with Michael Caine as Scrooge and Muppets as practically everybody else, e.g., Kermit the Frog (Steve Whitmire) as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy (Frank Oz) as Emily Cratchit. This is the dullest and least successful adaptation of the Christmas chestnut I’ve ever seen, possibly because the mixture of Muppets and humans creates anomalies of scale and degrees of stylized behavior that the film tries to ignore rather than work with. (Casting a well-known Muppet Gonzo as Charles Dickens, who serves as the storyteller, is symptomatic of the problem; all the movie can muster in this area is a vague conceit in search of a concept.) Caine in particular seems defeated by the confusion, and his Scrooge — like the other characters, for that matter — seems all premise. Coproducer Jerry Juhl wrote the script, and the songs are by Paul Williams. 85 min. (JR)

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