Showing posts with the label A Christmas Carol

A Sesame Street Christmas Carol (2006)

This is one of those things that both is and is not an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Specifically, it falls within the sub-sub-sub-genre where the idea is used to establish a frame story justifying the use of loosely connected clips to repackage old material as a new special. Only this time it's Sesame Street doing it, so it's kind of good. I assume it goes without saying that the Scrooge analog here is Oscar the Grouch. There's a bit of narration courtesy of Tim Curry (who voiced Scrooge himself in a 1997 animated movie) establishing the setting, though Curry immediately bows out until the very end. We don't get much setup at all: there's no Cratchit, Tiny Tim, or Fred analogs, nor does Oscar actually do anything more aggressive than hanging a sign on his can demanding not to be bothered until after the holidays. But Joe Marley, who works for a ghost-related delivery service, shows up to deliver the first of three ghost-o-grams (an antique can of beans) along wi

The Christmas Carol (1949)

Just so there's no confusion, this isn't a movie: it's a 25-minute version of A Christmas Carol made for television. Actually, Wikipedia claims it's the first TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol - I have no idea if that's actually true, but let's give it the benefit of the doubt. If you're wondering how they're able to condense the entirety of A Christmas Carol into 25 minutes, rest assured the answer is "poorly." Very poorly, in fact, and it doesn't help that a significant portion of that runtime goes to overlong opening credits where Scrooge's first name is misspelled (seriously) and an intro from narrator Vincent Price. Don't get too excited: he's warm and friendly here - picture the Platonic ideal of "Christmas special host," and you should have a good idea of what he's wearing, how he's dressed, and what the set looks like. Also, try to act surprised when I tell you he reads the story from a book. Still, Pr

A Christmas Karen (2022)

There are two main problems with A Christmas Karen, a new streaming adaptation of Dickens's classic set in modern-day Florida with a stereotypical "Karen" replacing Ebenezer. The first problem is that the premise felt dated before the movie even came out - the whole "Karen" thing has mostly come and gone. The second problem is that the movie is kind of good. Conceptually, this should basically be a farce in the vein of comedies from the early '00s and before. The first fifteen minutes or so embrace this, with over-the-top exaggerated humor designed to distract the audience rather than draw them in. But as the ghosts start showing up, the jokes become more and more sporadic, so this can focus instead on character and story. Because - and here's what's surprising - this really is an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, rather than a parody or homage. Sure, the names are different and there are quite a few changes (we'll get to that in a moment), but a

A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)

This seventy-minute TV movie falls in a microgenre in which preexisting characters are acting out a version of A Christmas Carol as part of a play or movie. The original is of course the Mr. Magoo special, though Looney Tunes, Disney, and The Muppets all attempted a similar premise, with varying levels of fourth wall breaks. I'd argue this is a distinct approach to homages in which characters are visited by spirits or in some other way put through a Dickensian trial as themselves. In this case, the characters are treated as actors playing the cast of A Christmas Carol. Well, sort of. Flintstones Christmas Carol alters the formula very slightly in a couple ways. First, it embraces the play-within-a-play motif to a far greater extent than its predecessors. Magoo's Christmas Carol acknowledges the play mainly in an introduction and conclusion, but makes few references throughout. Mickey's Christmas Carol includes no explanation whatsoever for the casting choices (though I'

Carry On Christmas (1969)

This is one of those times where I find myself a bit lost. Ostensibly a comical retelling of A Christmas Carol, this is really better described as a farcical sketch special loosely tied together with a frame story about Scrooge. The key word here is "loosely," in that the majority of the sketches have nothing at all to do with the story or its characters. Also complicating matters is the fact it's part of a franchise of comedic British films with what I assume is a similar style of humor. That style, incidentally, is a longstanding British tradition utilizing innuendo, absurdity, and intentional shock. While I suspect this is a form of comedy deserving of respect, it's also kind of the forerunner of what would eventually turn into things like Scary Movie. In short, I didn't like this, but I'm having a hard time parsing out whether that's because it's bad, it's dated, or I'm simply lacking the context necessary to appreciate what they're doi

So You're Planning to Remake A Christmas Carol...

If you've been following along, you know I've been watching adaptations, remakes, homages, and reimaginings of A Christmas Carol in bulk this year. As you might expect, I've got some thoughts about what makes an adaptation work and what doesn't. I figured I'd pass on my notes to whatever studio executive thinks it's a good idea to remake Scrooge for the [checks notes] I have no idea what number time we're up to. As a sidenote, this article is mainly going to concern itself with adaptations of the original book. I might turn to quasi-sequels like Scrooged and Spirited for guidance, but that's not what this is about. Do We Need Another Adaptation? I thought I'd start with some thoughts on whether there's even a point in doing this again. You may be surprised to hear my answer is, "Maybe." One takeaway from this whole project is that while there are a lot of versions out there, there isn't really a single definitive one that meets all

A Christmas Carol (2020)

This 2020 British adaptation offers a somewhat unique approach to A Christmas Carol. It's actually a little hard to explain, because the short version, "A Christmas Carol reimagined through modern dance," doesn't actually convey the experience. Perhaps it should, though: the movie's main flaw is it tries to do too much at once and as a result kneecaps some of its best assets. The film starts with a Victorian family preparing a sort of miniature stage, complete with tiny paper characters. The kids are essentially cutting up newspaper and constructing a model using the illustrations and words. Once they've finished, the matriarch begins telling the story, heavily using Dickens's text. We then cut to the world of the model for the performance. This is one of the aspects that makes me almost want to recommend the movie despite... well, we'll get to the "despite" in a moment. But the sets are breathtaking and inventive. The story plays out in a wo

An American Christmas Carol (1979)

Notable for having perhaps the least creative title among scores of loose adaptations, An American Christmas Carol is a 1979 TV movie that's sort of a mix of a retelling and a sequel of Dickens's classic. Like the big-budget musical that kicked off the decade, the lead role is played by an actor in his 30s with makeup used to effectively double his age. In this case, the actor is Henry Winkler, best known as Fonzie from Happy Days. And, for what it's worth, I think he works a little better as an old man than Albert Finney in 1970's Scrooge, despite Finney's makeup being quite a bit better. Winkler's physicality sells his age, which makes for a more convincing illusion. Because this is set in New Hampshire in 1933, Winkler isn't technically playing Scrooge - his character is Benedict Slade, which isn't quite an anagram for Ebenezer Scrooge, but if you squint you can see the game they're playing. Same with the name of his underpaid assistant, Thatcher.

Brer Rabbit's Christmas Carol (1992)

Brer Rabbit is a character with an extremely complex legacy going back to African folklore. Unfortunately, the vast majority of modern versions have racist connotations, largely due to the character's appropriation by white writers and filmmakers exploiting those stories (looking at you, Walt). Whether the character can be untangled from that exploitation is an open question I can't answer, but I believe it should go without saying that it shouldn't be white people trying. Brer Rabbit's Christmas Carol was an hour-long 1992 made-for-TV movie, a sequel to a 1991 TV movie called Brer Rabbit Tales. It was produced and directed by Al Guest and Jean Mathieson, and I wish I had a concrete answer to the obvious question. Guest and Mathieson were Canadian animators who made a number of shows and TV movies over the course of their careers. Based on her IMDB picture, Mathieson appears to be white. Guest doesn't have a picture on his page, and I can't find any additional p

The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol (2011)

Released alongside the live-action Smurfs movie on DVD, The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol is a mix of 3D and 2D animation loosely adapting Dickens' story. I should probably note that I've never seen the movie this ties to: I only subject myself to things like that when Christmas is involved. The story is, of course, set in Smurf village, which is getting ready for Christmas. Everyone's singing "Smurf the Halls" and decorating except Grumpy Smurf, and when the others confront him, he tells them he hates the holiday and won't decorate or celebrate with them. This comes as a surprise to his neighbors: despite his name and personality, he apparently used to like Christmas. They all gather together to try and find a way to improve Grumpy's disposition - because it won't be the same if everyone doesn't conform to the culturally and commercially mandated yuletide enthusiasm. Seriously, cartoons need to stop pulling this crap. The problem with Scrooge isn'

It's Christmas, Carol! (2012)

I'm being particular about the title this time, because there seems to be some confusion. The movie is actually listed a couple times on Amazon, with different versions having different streaming tiers. The difference is a subtle one: one version includes the comma, while the other doesn't. It's clearly present in the title appearing onscreen in the movie, so that's the one I'm going with. Speaking of titles, this is far from the first modern re-imagining of A Christmas Carol I've seen where the role is gender flipped and the lead is named "Carol." These reviews won't be run in the order watched, but by my count this is the third, and I'm aware of at least one more. Hell, this isn't even the first I've seen produced by Hallmark featuring a legendary science-fiction star as a ghostly helper. The 2003 TV movie, "A Carol Christmas" included William Shatner, so for balance to exist in the universe I suppose we needed a similar ver