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The Muppet Christmas Carol

December 16, 2018

TMCCBased on the Dickens story.

On Christmas Eve, in 19th Century London, Charles Dickens and his friend Rizzo act as narrators throughout the film. Ebenezer Scrooge, a surly money-lender, does not share the merriment of Christmas. Scrooge rejects his nephew Fred’s invitation to Christmas dinner, dismisses two gentlemen’s collecting money for charity, and tosses a wreath at a carol singing Bean Bunny. His loyal employee Bob Cratchit (played by Kermit the Frog) and the other bookkeepers request to have Christmas Day off since there will be no business for Scrooge on the day, to which he reluctantly agrees. Scrooge leaves for home while the bookkeepers celebrate Christmas. In his house, Scrooge encounters the ghosts of his late business partners Jacob and Robert Marley (played by Statler and Waldorf), who warn him to repent his wicked ways or he will be condemned in the afterlife like they were, informing him that three spirits will visit him during the night.

At one o’clock, Scrooge is visited by the childlike Ghost of Christmas Past who takes him back in time to his childhood and early adult life, Dickens and Rizzo hitching a ride too. They visit his lonely school days, and then his time as an employee under Fozziwig (Mr. Fezziwig from the original story, played by Fozzie Bear), who owned a rubber chicken factory. Fozziwig and his mother throw a Christmas party, Scrooge attends and meets a young woman named Belle, whom he falls in love with. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how Belle left him when he chose money over her. A tearful Scrooge dismisses the Ghost as he returns to the present.

At two o’clock, Scrooge meets the gigantic, merry Ghost of Christmas Present who shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Fred’s house where Scrooge is made fun of. Scrooge and the spirit then visit Bob Cratchit’s house, learning his family is surprisingly content with their small dinner, Scrooge taking pity on Bob’s ill son Tiny Tim (played by Robin the Frog). The Ghost of Christmas Present abruptly ages, commenting that Tiny Tim will likely not survive until next Christmas. Scrooge and the Ghost go to a cemetery, where the latter fades away, informing Scrooge that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will arrive shortly. A fog fills the cemetery, revealing the third Ghost, who appears as a tall, silent cloaked figure. While Dickens and Rizzo abandon the audience to avoid being frightened, the Ghost takes Scrooge into the future.

Scrooge and the Ghost witness a group of businessmen discussing the death of an unnamed colleague where they would only attend the funeral if lunch is provided. In a den, Scrooge recognizes his charwoman, his laundress, and the local undertaker trading several stolen possessions of the deceased to a fence named Old Joe. The Ghost transports Scrooge to Bob’s house, discovering Tiny Tim has died. Scrooge is escorted back to the cemetery, where the Ghost points out his own grave, revealing Scrooge was the man who died. Realizing this, Scrooge decides to change his ways.

Awakening in his bedroom on Christmas Day, Scrooge decides to surprise Bob’s family with a turkey dinner, and ventures out with Bean, Dickens, Rizzo, and the charity workers to spread happiness and joy around London. Scrooge goes to the Cratchit house, at first putting on a stern demeanor, but reveals he intends to raise Bob’s salary and pay off his mortgage. Dickens narrates how Scrooge became a secondary father to Tiny Tim, who escaped death. Scrooge, the Cratchits, and the neighbourhood celebrate Christmas.

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s repentance is still as strong today as it was when Charles Dickens first penned it.

Scrooge’s repentant heart takes to the immediate expression of gratitude. In the song “Thankful Heart,” he vows to express that thankfulness by helping anyone that he can. He promises to end their suffering (especially that caused by him) and lift them up as high as he once esteemed himself. And above all else, he is thankful that he has the opportunity to do so.

Beyond its wonderful moral lessons and a reverent nod to “the One who made lame beggars walk and blind men see,” The Muppet Christmas Carol is just plain fun. It feels fun. It looks fun. And it is spring-loaded with clever references and sight gags sure to amuse older audiences as well as children.

 

Jacob Marley: Why do you doubt your senses?

Ebenezer Scrooge: Because a little thing can effect them. A slight disorder of the stomach can make them cheat. You may be a bit of undigested beef, a blob of mustard, a crumb of cheese. Yes. There’s more gravy than of grave about you.

Robert Marley: More gravy than of grave?

Jacob Marley: What a terrible pun. Where do you get those jokes?

Robert Marley: Leave comedy to the bears, Ebenezer.

 

Kermit the Frog: It’s all right, children. Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it. I am sure that we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us.

 

 

Ebenezer Scrooge: [in the graveyard] Must we return to this place? There is something else that I must know, is that not true? Spirit, I know what I must ask. I fear to, but I must. Who was the wretched man whose death brought so much glee and happiness to others?

[the spirit points to a headstone, Scrooge begins moving toward it, then turns back, frightened]

Ebenezer Scrooge: Answer me one more question. Are these the shadows of things that *will* be, or are they the shadows of things that *may* be only?

[the spirit points again at the gravestone, Scrooge slowly approaches it]

Ebenezer Scrooge: These events can be changed! A life can be made right.

[he clears the snow from the stone and reads]

Ebenezer Scrooge: [in tears] Ebenezer Scrooge! Oh please Spirit, no! Hear me, I, I am not the man I was! Why would you show me this if I am past all hope?…

[sobbing]

Ebenezer Scrooge: I, I *will* honor Christmas, and try to keep it all the year! I will live my life in the past, the present and the future. I will not shut out the lessons the spirits have taught me! Tell me that I may sponge out the writing on this stone!

[kneeling, clutching at the spirit’s robe]

Ebenezer Scrooge: Oh Spirit, please speak to me!

 

Ebenezer Scrooge: Christmas is a very busy time for us, Mr. Cratchit. People preparing feasts, giving parties, spending the mortgage money on frivolities. One might say that December is the foreclosure season. Harvest time for the money-lenders.

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