Disney's A Christmas Carol
Running Time: 96 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG
Country: United States
Everybodys done it at some point, it seems. Bill Murray did it. Scrooge McDuck did it. Heck, even the Muppets did it. And thats not even counting all the straight versions, like the 1951 Alistair Sim classic (and all the retellings to follow). Theres not really a lot left to do with A Christmas Carol to make it new or differentnor does there need to bebut I guess Robert Zemeckis figured it needed some motion capture.
So, of course, its the same Christmas story everyone knowsmiserly old Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) hates the holiday and people and all that is good, caring only about money. Then, on Christmas Eve, hes visited by the chained up ghost of his also miserly old partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him that if he doesnt get a little nicer, hes going to end up in the same eternal predicament. Marley tells him therell be three more spirits (more Carrey) appearing to show him the errors of his ways, and they do, and he learns, and Tiny Tim blesses us all, every one.
I think we tend to forget as the years go by that the original Carol by Charles Dickens wasnt necessarily funny or ready-made to be adapted by Muppets and comedians. Really, save for the end scenes, post-Ghosts, its a pretty dramatic tale of loneliness, greed, regret, and mortality. This Zemeckis take may be animated, but its not exactly kid-friendly, and especially in 3-D, its dark and scary stuff. The visuals are fantastic, and though Ive never been a fan of this whole mo-cap idea and the way it makes faces look blandly smooth and impersonal, I have to give a lot of credit to the animators here, especially for their superbly detailed work on the old Scrooge, as well as on the Marley ghost. Jim Carrey plays so many characters I lost count, but I know hes all the Scrooges AND all the Ghosts. It would seem that would result in a Carrey-centric, over the top schtick-fest, but this imagining of the story everyone knows stays pretty close to its source material, which doesnt really leave much room for hamming it up (the closest he gets is as the Ghost of Christmas Present, but thats always been a big character anyway). Along for the ride are some classy names to make it all respectableColin Firth, Cary Elwes, Bob Hoskinsbut its all Carreys show, and hes a convincing Ebenezer, even without seeing his real face. So good on you, Mr. ZemeckisIm still not convinced that motion-capture is the wave of the future you think it is, and The Polar Express is still creepy, but you managed to make a classic feel new again by keeping it close to its dark roots.
It's Got: Stunning visuals, scary ghosts, surprisingly understated performances by Jim Carrey (sort of)
It Needs: To be seen first by parents, perhaps a little more time spent on Scrooge's past and/or the Cratchits
Dark, scary, and fantastic visually, this revamp of the quintessential Christmas story sticks close to its source and delivers the intended allegory on the inevitable cost of greed.