The Muppets will always hold a special place for me. I remember growing up and
watching the Muppet Show and today it's still as funny and memorable. I
think that says something about the care the Jim Henson departed into his characters.
When choosing to adapt one of the most loved and memorable Christmas Classics
into the Muppet universe, Henson's son Brian applied the same care and produced
a memorable and timeless film.
Everyone knows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the banker with the heart of
coal and a total disdain for Christmas. We've all seen the countless adaptations
of his visits from the many ghosts of Christmas and how he turns it all around
in the end, so what did Henson hope to achieve with his version. He added the
wit of the Muppets and the charm of the characters to this classic tale and
made all the more believable by casting Michael Caine as Scrooge.
Caine presents himself as a perfect Scrooge and is somewhat taken aback by
his Muppet costars and their antics. Rather than play to the Muppets, Caine
takes the role as serious as he would if surrounded by a season Shakespearean
troop of actors. Rather than make a mockery of the story, Henson and his crew
have tweaked and added sublime jokes throughout.
Most of the cast and Caine make note of the differences between Muppets and
humans, as well as the frogs and pigs. Also, there are several songs and comedic
bits added to the mix and overall the film plays like an extended episode of
the show, but with a theme. It's a credit to Henson and the Muppet performers
as they imbue their felt and plastic creations with the life and energy of real
performers and make us believe that nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
This is how the Muppets work the best and it's the formula that was used
so successfully on their show and the original 3 movies.
The Muppets and Scrooge combine perfectly for a well-crafted and well-acted
recreation of this Christmas cautionary tale. The performance by Caine will
bring in the adults and the Muppets will enthrall the kids and make this a film
for everyone this holiday season.
Video: The bright and vivid world of the Muppets is transferred
near-perfectly in this addition. The 1.33:1 (no widescreen!!) looks crisp and
clean, but the setting make things a little dark overall. There are nary any
flaws in the print and contrast looks good on the many white, snow-covered backdrops.
The age of the film shows slightly, as the overall transfers lacks a little
definition compared to the documentary footage. A Widescreen transfer should
have been included.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is beautifully
done. The Christmas music and songs fill the speakers. There are no real showcase
sequences, but the overall quality is perfect.
Extras: There is a great documentary on the disc entitled
"Frogs, Pigs, and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic." Filled
with new interviews, old behind the scenes footage and new material with Gonzo
and Rizzo, it's a decidedly Muppet take on the standard DVD documentary.
Brian Henson host's the clips and interviews are included and the visual
effects are explained in detail as well.
Also included is a Gag Reel from the film and they are hilarious. Similar to
the outtakes that have become famous on DVDs like "A Bug's Life"
and "Toy Story," they are a combination of funny ad-libs and unplanned
mistakes that are carried to the extreme by the performers. Another feature,
"Christmas Around the World" takes viewers on a short, but somewhat
funny, tour of Christmas traditions around the world. It's interesting
Add a great commentary by Brian Henson and some truly entertaining menus with
Kermit and it's a perfect holiday DVD. Henson covers a wide range of material
in his full-length commentary and it's all interesting. He explains all
the technical and personal choices he used in the film, as well as what it was
like with this being the first film since his father's death.
Overall: This is a great addition for Muppet fans and anyone
who wants a great Christmas movie that anyone will enjoy. The performances by
Caine and the Muppets are perfect and there are a few great extras for those
that want them.