Here at Nerds and Beyond, we want to spread the Christmas cheer. Every day this December leading up to Christmas, we are highlighting some of our favorite festive films. One of my all-time favorites is The Muppet Christmas Carol, directed by Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson). I was late to the party with this film as I didn’t watch it until I was in my late teens, but now it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I have.
For anyone who has not come across this masterpiece, it retells the classic Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol with the Muppets portraying most of the characters, with the exception of Scrooge, played by Michael Caine. Scrooge hates Christmas (Humbug!) and all the sentiments that accompany it: love, kindness, and charity. On the night of Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghosts of his old business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf) who warn him he will be damned for his unkind deeds. Scrooge is then visited by more specters: the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who give him insights into the lives of those around him, notably his employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) in an attempt to give Scrooge the chance to redeem himself.
Although the film is family friendly, there are some dark moments that may be upsetting to younger children – it never fails to make me sob. However, it is mostly kept light-hearted as the whole tale is hilariously narrated by Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Rizzo the Rat. They provide some of my absolute favorite comic moments throughout the film, from Gonzo using Rizzo as a squeegee to clean a dirty window to Rizzo’s continuous eating – including wax fruit! I still laugh like a child when Gonzo accidentally lights Rizzo’s tail on fire (“light the lamp, not the rat!”), pushes him into a barrel of frozen water, and then emerges with a rat-shaped icicle on a stick.
At the heart of the film is the amazing soundtrack. From the hilarious “Scrooge” to the joyful catchiness of “It Feels Like Christmas,” all of the songs contain messages about Christmas spirit, without being over-the-top cheesy. My favorite, “Bless Us All,” always makes me tear up as the Cratchit family give us the message that no matter our circumstances, as long as we have love and kindness, we can have a wonderful Christmas.
The wonderful blend of puppets and live actors in the Victorian setting sets a lovely childlike tone to the whole story. The amazing talent of the Muppet performers — notably Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, and Frank Oz — never fails to astonish me. There are also jokes weaved into the film for fans familiar with The Muppets, for example, Animal being sat at a drum kit but sadly having to delicately play the triangle at Fozziwig’s Christmas Party.
As the film is approaching its 27th anniversary, although some of the effects are dated, the message is timeless. Watching The Muppet Christmas Carol is the equivalent to having a hot bowl of soup in winter; it makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. As the song “It Feels Like Christmas” says: “The message, if we hear it, is make it last all year” (the Christmas message, not the soup).
The Muppet Christmas Carol is currently available to watch on Disney+. Make sure to check back in tomorrow for another Christmas movie recommendation. Merry Christmas!