The fourth Muppet movie is the first after Jim Henson’s death and now more clearly than ever is the concept directed at children. A smart commercial move, but I’m sure adults will also love this transition into the world of classic stories. Charles Dickens’s Christmas carol is virtually reinvented by Henson’s son Brian and gets a wonderfully wintry look, its spirits lifted by a bundle of terrific new songs by Paul Williams that perfectly illustrate the various chapters. The comedy is also given a natural place in the film, with ingenious, funny roles for Gonzo and Rizzo as narrators who incorporate some of Dickens’s prose. Michael Caine gives it his very best as Scrooge.
1992-U.S. 85 min. Color. Produced by Martin G. Baker, Brian Henson. Directed by Brian Henson. Screenplay: Jerry Juhl. Novel: Charles Dickens (“A Christmas Carol”). Songs: Paul Williams. Cast: Michael Caine (Ebenezer Scrooge). Muppet Performers: Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz.
Trivia: The Muppets next appeared in Muppet Treasure Island (1996).
Last word: “Jerry Juhl saw me kind of growing [as a performer] at the same time he was writing the movie with Kirk Thatcher, and wanting the Dickens narration to somehow be in the movie because it was so beautiful. He didn’t want to use a voiceover because that was an intrusion; suddenly it occurred to him that if Gonzo could play the part of Charles Dickens, he could be the Greek chorus in the movie, as well.” (Goelz, Disney twenty-three)