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Showing posts with the label A Christmas Carol

An American Carol (2008)

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This is one of those movies that's sort of on the boundary of what we'd consider discussing. It's not set at or about Christmas, but depending on your point of view it's either derivative of or based on arguably the most famous Christmas story set in December (we all know the manger thing happened in the fall, right?). On top of that, An American Carol has particular significance to another project I'm working on for later this year. For reasons not even I can explain, I seem to have decided 2022 would be the year I finally watched through the various adaptations of A Christmas Carol, or at least all the significant ones. And while this falls near the low end of the spectrum of both the significance and adaptation metrics, it was released theatrically, so I decided to give it a watch. Set in America in the "present" of 2008, the movie applies the "Christmas Carol" template to the 4th of July and the War on Terror in order to lampoon liberalism. I

A Christmas Carol (2019)

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In a world where multi-season series are now set during the holidays, an actual three-episode miniseries almost feels quaint and old-fashioned, but that's exactly what the BBC's 2019 take on A Christmas Carol is. We've been meaning to watch this for a few years now, but somehow never got around to it until now. And now that we've finally watched this, I can definitely say... it is not what I expected. More specifically, it's completely different than it was marketed, and not just because the teaser made it look kind of good . From everything I'd seen about this, I'd assume it was going to highlight the horror aspects of its source material, which I've long felt get overlooked. But aside from a veneer vaguely mimicking that genre and a few jump scares, this isn't at all a horror in tone. First and foremost, it feels like a melodrama, with touches of horror and - surprisingly - comedy tossed in. Even more surprising, it's kind of a stretch to call

DuckTales: Last Christmas (2018)

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The worst thing I can say about the DuckTales reboot is that nothing about the show feels particularly revolutionary. Obviously, there's no reason it should, but it's the only thing that differentiates it from any of the best animated shows of all time. It's not subversive and dark like Batman TAS; it's not shocking and cerebral like Mystery Inc.; it's not progressive like Steven Universe or as profoundly optimistic as Phineas and Ferb. It's just... nearly perfect in every way imaginable. I apologize for being so harsh. So is this just the level of quality we should expect going forward? If so, I'm not complaining - the DuckTales reboot is fantastic, and I'm loving every minute. It's just... I'm kind of bewildered. Given the significance of the IP coupled with the money thrown at this (I mean, just look at the voice cast), shouldn't this have been shredded through meddling studio notes or something? How the hell did this series not only r

Karroll's Christmas (2004)

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This made-for-TV comedy focuses on Allan Karroll, a man who hates Christmas because... Wait! Come back! I know, I know. Christmas comedies made for TV are almost universally terrible. But while this one isn’t a work of cinematic brilliance, it’s definitely exceptional among its type. I was skeptical of the beginning too. It seems like so many of this genre, presenting a protagonist who has to learn a lesson because they don’t unconditionally love Christmas to an unreasonable degree. However, while Allan’s irritation with a work presentation going poorly and a confrontation with his nasty neighbor are exacerbated by the Christmas season, he’s just average prickly until dinner with his girlfriend Carrie. Then he becomes downright unlikeable, as he can’t let his irritation go and doesn’t even notice that said girlfriend is trying to be romantic (and secretly planning to propose to him). They go home together, but his neighbor starts stealing his electricity (via Christmas lights)

Back to the Future: Dickens of a Christmas (1991)

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I don't remember this series, but I recall the era it comes from well enough. Prior to Batman: the Animated Series, cartoon shows - particularly those adapted from live action movies - were mainly cheap cash grabs produced by networks trusting a lack of alternatives would force their audience to tune in regardless of quality. Yup, even with no recollection of this particular show, this brings back memories of Saturday mornings spent staring blankly at the TV in the idle hope something worth seeing would air. This series ostensibly picks up after the movies left off, following Doc Brown and his family, along with Marty, as they adventure through time. I assume Marty was lobotomized earlier in the season because his intelligence level is significantly lower here than in the movies. The animation is extremely toonish - this is closer to Looney Tunes than anything resembling realism. The tone is spastic, trusting on a barrage of slapstick gags to keep kids engaged. A few acto

Teen Titans Go!: Black Friday (2015)

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I wanted to hate this. I'm getting that out of the way first, so you have some idea of where I'm coming from. On principle, I dislike this series, not so much for its content but for what it represents. I liked the original Teen Titans, as well as Young Justice - the last thing I wanted was a hokey show that reduced the characters and premise to cheap jokes. So I set out to hate this. But then... then something went wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. This episode elbowed me in the gut, kicked me in the shin, then reached in through my cold chest and violently wrenched my heart away from me. It made me love it, whether I wanted to or not. That's also a fairly good synopsis of the premise. As the title suggests, this episode focuses on Black Friday, presented here as the cultural juggernaut it truly is. The Titans are preparing to shop by gorging on turkey. With one exception, they're eagerly awaiting their favorite day of the year, when they'll charge into st

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010)

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Easily my favorite of the Doctor Who Christmas specials, this episode from 2010 kicks off the second season with Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor. This starts in the future on a distant world that's essentially a steampunk version of Victorian London. Only in space with flying sharks. Oh, and of course it's Christmas. Well, more accurately it's the winter solstice, but the opening monologue states the obvious: they're the same thing, anyway. One of the things that makes this work as well as it does is that it really doesn't give you time to stop and question its logic. That's probably a good thing, because the premise is more than a little haphazard. For example, Amy and Rory are honeymooning on a space cruiser that's about to crash into the planet of street urchins and fish-clouds, and the Doctor is unable to save them with the TARDIS. It's not remotely clear why this is beyond his capabilities (I think there might have been some BS tech-babble exp

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

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Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol 's claim to fame is that it was the first animated Christmas special created for television. Its success paved the way for Rudolph, Frosty, the Peanuts' special, and all the rest. From a historical perspective, this is extremely important. But from a practical standpoint, it's pretty dull. This thing starts with a brief frame story, which serves no purpose other than establishing why Mr. Magoo is Scrooge. It's a fairly simple set-up revolving around a Broadway production of "A Christmas Carol" starring Mr. Magoo. Why is Mr. Magoo starring in a play? No clue. But there are a few quick gags involving his sight. He crashes his car, goes into the wrong building, goes into a woman's dressing room instead of his own, then causes the play's director to be horribly injured just as the play starts. All of this takes about three and a half minutes. The next forty-seven minutes are just "A Christmas Carol." Ostensibly

The Catherine Tate Show: “Nan’s Christmas Carol” (2009)

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I’ve seen a few minutes of The Catherine Tate Show . It’s a sketch comedy show. I was not prepared for this. Some explanation that I wish I’d had going into this: This special is one long story based on one of the recurring characters that Catherine Tate plays. This character is an abrasive, obnoxious grandmother. I suppose it’s funny to some people? It’s really not my style of humor. Because it’s A Christmas Carol, we have to set up that Nan is a horrible person by having her be rude to carolers, steal from her neighbors, and toss relations come to stay with her out on the street. This takes entirely too long and is dull as dishwater. FINALLY, we get to the ghosts. At this point the pace and the humor finally start to pick up. Marley’s place is taken by her late husband, and that scene made us both sit up and pay more attention. Then the Ghost of Christmas Past has a bit of trouble impressing Nan, and we started to laugh. Past brings Nan to her childhood and also shows her oth

Looney Tunes: Bah, Humduck! (2006)

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Bah, Humduck attempts to invoke the joy of classic Looney Tunes cartoons in telling a quirky version of A Christmas Carol, and it fails miserably on both counts. There's absolutely no charm, no fun, and no humor in watching this special drag out. There's a sense that this was made to mimic better movies. The backgrounds are filled with a constant barrage of old characters from Warner's past, but the references are hollow, adding up to nothing. It's as though the producers are trying to convince the audience they love these characters, too, despite clearly not understanding what makes the classics entertaining. The writing is dull and uninspired, driven by a need for instant recompense for any misdeed or heartless comment. The role of Scrooge is played, as the title suggests, by Daffy, who is impossibly rich for no discernible reason. If he threatens a child collecting for the poor, a door closes on him. If he dismisses Christmas, he falls down the stairs. Karmic p

The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)

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I remembered this one from my childhood and wanted to track it down. It might be my favorite Christmas Carol I've seen yet this year, but it's a very odd one. This is actually an animated remake of a live action musical version (also a TV special) from 1956. It's full of songs and music; there's actually very little dialogue. I really like the music, although bear in mind the style has a lot in common with old-fashioned movie musicals. Some of the songs are wonderfully surreal. Near the start, Erin asked me to confirm that we'd just heard a bunch of alley cats singing about how Scrooge was so stingy that Satan was going to complain about him in Hell. Yes, yes we had. They manage to fit digressions about both Santa Claus and Jesus into an hour-long Christmas Carol, so there are a few common scenes missing from this adaptation. Nothing about young Scrooge at school, and if you blink you'll miss the Ghost of Christmas Future. I like the voice acting most

Scrooged (1988)

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I see this movie about once every five years, enjoy it quite a bit, then promptly forget every joke in the film. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - in a way, the fact that Scrooged is so forgettable gives it re-watch value it wouldn't otherwise have - but it also puts a limitation on the film's impact. Scrooged attempts to ride a line between tones and genres and pulls it off well enough to be entertaining, but not so well as to leave a lasting impression. The movie's concept is ambitious: a cold-hearted network executive in the middle of producing a live televised production of Scrooge is visited by the three legendary ghosts of the story. There was a lot of potential here to build a sense of vertigo by playing off the inherent surreality of the situation. Unfortunately, the movie didn't fully embrace this. At no point did the main character reflect on the similarities between his experiences and Scrooge's: he seems completely unaware he's living A Ch

A Christmas Carol (2009)

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Ugh. What a boring excuse for a movie. We all know the story of A Christmas Carol (if you don't, well go read it. It's short and free online, and we're planning on looking at quite a few versions this year) so the only questions here are its quality as an adaptation and its quality as a movie. This fails pretty badly on both counts. The first problem is that A Christmas Carol is not a long story. No, not even if you shoehorn in as many lines of dialogue and tiny descriptive moments as you can bear, including many that wiser screenwriters left out of their versions. Mickey's Christmas Carol works by being short. Muppet Christmas Carol has musical numbers. This one either shoves in deadly dull sequences of nothing; pointless flyovers of GC landscapes, establishing sequences for settings that are never used, ridiculously stupid chase sequences that make no sense, ludicrously over the top “this was filmed in 3D!!!” pans, or it just takes forever to get to the next pa

Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)

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I enjoy all of Blackadder, but this Christmas special might just be my favorite part of the franchise. I adore it for the simple premise: it's a reverse Christmas Carol. Blackadder, if you've missed it, was comprised of four short seasons, several specials, and a movie, set through various times in British history.  (Actors often play similarly named characters in different time periods, ostensibly relations/descendants of previous characters.)  In most of the series (the first season was a bit different) the protagonist Blackadder is cunning, self-serving, and highly intelligent, and is always either trying to get ahead in society, or trying to evade responsibility and danger. At the beginning of Blackadder's Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Blackadder is the “kindest and loveliest  man” in London.  That doesn't exactly last. I have seen this over and over, and I still laugh out loud.  That's the mark of great comedy for me. The first half is great because it

Barbie in A Christmas Carol (2008)

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Erin is going to take this movie WAY too seriously, so I'm offering a rebuttal. It isn't good, of course it isn't good.  It's a CG Barbie movie.  But it's not crime-against-humanity levels.  It's pink and girly and very G-rated.  They gender swap all the characters (which is more than fine with me) and make the story more about the sin of vanity than the sin of greed.  Frankly, except for a few particularly painful scenes, I'd put this squarely into “so-bad-it's-good”.  Not quite good enough to seek out, but pair it with Beauty and The Beast: Enchanted Christmas, some sort of pink champagne, and a room full of enthusiastic young women, and you might have a very amusing time. I mean. it's produced by Mattel Entertainment!  HA! The DVD has a sing-along mode.  The main character has a fat tag-a-long cat named after a different Dickens book.  The Ghost of Christmas Past is a completely manic Tinkerbell. The whole thing is nuts. The animation is c

Barbie: A Christmas Carol (2008)

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I just got through watching Barbie: A Christmas Carol, and wanted to write down a few thoughts while the movie was still fresh in my mind. My first thought isn't so much a thought, per se, as it is an overall emotional response; a desire, in fact.  Right now, I want to find a Barbie doll - any Barbie doll - and yank its head off its shoulders.  I want to snap every goddamn joint on that thing, and, if possible, I'd really like to feed the pieces through a wood chipper. And before you ask, no: I'm not overreacting.  It was really that bad.  It was worse - WORSE - than you'd expect a direct-to-DVD Barbie reinterpretation of A Christmas Carol to be.  In every imaginable way, it was worse. The animation... oh, God.  Dear, God.  Why?  The characters were less lifelike than the toys they were based on.  They weren't just soulless: it was like some demonic spirit crawled up from the depths of Hell and inhabited these empty, plastic shells and brought them to a stat

Book Review: A Christmas Carol

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Cross-Posted from The Blue Fairy's Bookshelf A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens, 1843 With all the different adaptations I've been watching recently, I thought it was time to re-read  A Christmas Carol. I remember reading this in grade school, although I think that we read the dramatization, not the prose. The most striking thing to me is how little is different. There are plenty of cute turns of phrase, clever bits of writing, but most adaptations of the story really do hit all the high notes. Particularly having just recently seen the Muppet Christmas Carol, I didn't think I added much to my understanding by reading the actual text. A few nice moments are missing from the films. I liked the sweet moment between Scrooge and his sister in the past, it really pushed the early softening of the character. There is a good comedic moment in the narration that precedes the second spirit. Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means prepared for nothing;

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)

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I liked this quite a bit. It's been quite a while since I'd seen it, although a lot of it came back to me as I watched. In case you are very young and deprived, this special is a sweet retelling of Christmas Carol starring all Disney characters. The animation is beautiful and detailed, the one song is pleasant and uplifting. The adaptation has to sprint through the plot to get to the end in half an hour, but it hits all the pertinent bits. I appreciate that they "cast" established characters in the roles of the ghosts, as well as all the others. That was something I felt was a poor misstep in The Muppet Christmas Carol. Scrooge definitely makes the special work, and he doesn't need any extra narration to keep viewers interested.  This Scrooge is short-sighted and greedy, but never evil.  His completely manic glee upon his transformation is an absolute joy. Of course, Scrooge McDuck playing Ebenezer Scrooge is hardly a stretch for the character. All of th

Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

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Awww.  This is a sweet movie, with a few weaknesses. Casting Gonzo and Rizzo as tag-team narrators was the main stroke of genius here.  It worked so well that they were asked to carry the next few movies as well.  Their comedy is pretty great, and as a fan I appreciate that their personalities are consistent, not drastically changed to play "Dickens".  Without them, this could have been pretty dour. Also it gives surprising gravitas to Dickens' words to hear them coming out of Gonzo.  Or maybe that's just me. Erin appreciated that Michael Caine could be playing Scrooge in any version of A Christmas Carol.  He resists the temptation to ham it up for the Muppets and plays it just as straight as could be.  Erin didn't much like the music, though. I like the songs: I think they're sweet, but that could easily be due to long familiarity. Also, the TV edit we saw cut "When Love is Gone", the most boring song in the movie, but that did put a hiccu