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Cinco DeNio

Musical Mondays Week 108 The Muppet Christmas Carol

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"If you enjoyed this, read the book." I hope you all did your homework!  We watched

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I like these posters.  Let's throw Scrooge to the back or do without him completely, because, he's not central to the story or anything!

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This is probably the best version of A Christmas Carol. It makes me wish Michael Caine also did a straight version just to see what it was like.

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OK, which one of you writes for The Guardian?  This article came out last week.

The film reminds me so potently of being a child that this time I welled up during One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas. My brother lives in a care home now, and I haven’t seen him all year. His carers have told him that it will be “lots of sleeps” until he sees me. It’s been a horrendous year for everybody, and I think that’s why we all need to watch this film. It allows us, for a tight one hour and 29 minutes, to become children again. And to remember that most important of life lessons: never eat singing food.

 

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Just now, Cinco DeNio said:

OK, which one of you writes for The Guardian?  This article came out last week.

 

 

Speaking of One More Sleep 'Til Christmas, the artist Kevin Wilson created two amazing posters based on the song.

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1 hour ago, grudlian. said:

This is probably the best version of A Christmas Carol. It makes me wish Michael Caine also did a straight version just to see what it was like.

I watched 5 of them on the 24th and 25th this year. This is certainly the best, because of course The Muppets are fun and they fill out the cloying drama so the story isn't quite so preachy. 

Caine is easily the best Scrooge. Other Scrooges sort of get one side of him right, either are super hard evil boss or sort of light-hearted and are not a good enough balance. 

I do highly recommend the musical Scrooge from the '70s, though maybe we should save it for next December. I thought the songs were also terrific and the whole thing is super creative.

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I think the only other version that comes close to this one, at least in my affection for it, is the Alastair Sim 'Christmas Carol' (aka 'Scrooge') from 1951. When Sim wakes up on Christmas morning and feels the relief of happiness about him, it's absolutely magical. He's definitely the funniest Scrooge (other than perhaps Bill Murray). Speaking of the Murray version, I do like that one a lot, but I think it swings too far in asking the audience to believe that Karen Allen would get back with him because he makes one speech after a decade of greed and being a sociopath. The supporting cast is KILLER in that one though.

Patrick Stewart does a great Scrooge, but I really prefer his one-man show / audiobook version of the story over the TV movie he did. If any of you have a chance to listen to him do the whole book, I don't know if it's still available on audible or something, but it's pretty amazing.

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As for this one, the idea of using Gonzo and Rizzo as narrators is genius. They're both such wonderful comic relief and get a lot of the exposition out of the way to make room for songs and character development. I love how unique the three spirits all look, and how genuine Caine's performance is. He goes from being the perfect embodiment of the greedy Scrooge archetype to a joyous lover of humanity in such a believable way. And hell, this is probably the best Tiny Tim: a mythological ideal of childlike innocence, one impossible to create with an actual human child. But an adorable little frog puppet? Holy shit, I believe in that Tiny Tim. He's like Baby Yoda, buy fuzzy and with an adorable singing voice!

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2 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I watched 5 of them on the 24th and 25th this year. This is certainly the best, because of course The Muppets are fun and they fill out the cloying drama so the story isn't quite so preachy. 

Caine is easily the best Scrooge. Other Scrooges sort of get one side of him right, either are super hard evil boss or sort of light-hearted and are not a good enough balance. 

I do highly recommend the musical Scrooge from the '70s, though maybe we should save it for next December. I thought the songs were also terrific and the whole thing is super creative.

I watched Scrooge yesterday for the first time (because several had noted it on Letterboxd) and enjoyed it very much.  I would second that as a selection but we don't have to wait until next December if Christmas is every day. 🙂

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1 hour ago, Quasar Sniffer said:

I think the only other version that comes close to this one, at least in my affection for it, is the Alastair Sim 'Christmas Carol' (aka 'Scrooge') from 1951. When Sim wakes up on Christmas morning and feels the relief of happiness about him, it's absolutely magical. He's definitely the funniest Scrooge (other than perhaps Bill Murray). Speaking of the Murray version, I do like that one a lot, but I think it swings too far in asking the audience to believe that Karen Allen would get back with him because he makes one speech after a decade of greed and being a sociopath. The supporting cast is KILLER in that one though.

Patrick Stewart does a great Scrooge, but I really prefer his one-man show / audiobook version of the story over the TV movie he did. If any of you have a chance to listen to him do the whole book, I don't know if it's still available on audible or something, but it's pretty amazing.

 

1 hour ago, Quasar Sniffer said:

As for this one, the idea of using Gonzo and Rizzo as narrators is genius. They're both such wonderful comic relief and get a lot of the exposition out of the way to make room for songs and character development. I love how unique the three spirits all look, and how genuine Caine's performance is. He goes from being the perfect embodiment of the greedy Scrooge archetype to a joyous lover of humanity in such a believable way. And hell, this is probably the best Tiny Tim: a mythological ideal of childlike innocence, one impossible to create with an actual human child. But an adorable little frog puppet? Holy shit, I believe in that Tiny Tim. He's like Baby Yoda, buy fuzzy and with an adorable singing voice!

I have to agree that this is probably my favorite version. And, having just read the book this year, it pretty well captured the feel. The book does bounce around from dark humor, horror, and joyousness, that I think The Muppets are uniquely able to capture. Muppets can be so many things, but you never have a trouble doubting that a crooked spider, a talking pig, and a, whatever the hell Beaker is, could all be inhabiting the same space in the same universe.

Personally, I think my favorite Tiny Tim, or at least, the one that gets me the most emotional, is from Scrooged. Like you said, it's difficult to capture the proper level of pathos and childlike innocence with a real child actor, but I feel like Robin might still be a bit too cutesy. What I liked in Scrooged was that his issues were more cerebral. I find it far more believable that Scrooge's turn (or Cross in that case), can help Calvin (?) overcome his struggles far more easily than it will cure Tiny Tim of whatever ailment he was afflicted with. Plus, having a mute child's first words be "God bless us, everyone"  (and Alfre Woodard's reaction) makes that moment that much more powerful.

Growing up, I think my favorite version was Mickey's Christmas Carol. I still like it a lot, but I think it's only about 24 minutes or something so it doesn't quite have the weight of a full length movie.

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I will say, this was my eldest son's first time watching it. Neither he nor his brother have ever really been into Muppets, and he seemed to really enjoy. He was really invested. It was suitably creepy for a kid his age, too. 

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I'm curious what people think of the song When Love Is Gone. It was cut from the theatrical version but it's sometimes on home media and streaming versions of the movie. I think the Disney+ version includes it.

Personally, I don't like it since it doesn't fit the feel of the rest of the movie.

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I don’t hate it. But, then again, it’s been included in every version I’ve ever seen, so it’s always just been a part of it for me.

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1 hour ago, grudlian. said:

I'm curious what people think of the song When Love Is Gone. It was cut from the theatrical version but it's sometimes on home media and streaming versions of the movie. I think the Disney+ version includes it.

Personally, I don't like it since it doesn't fit the feel of the rest of the movie.

It's not curently in the Disney+ version but it will eventually be.  They're restoring it for the 4k Blu-Ray.  Here's a decent-quality version in the meantime.

 

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14 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I don’t hate it. But, then again, it’s been included in every version I’ve ever seen, so it’s always just been a part of it for me.

The first time I saw it, it was included. Shortly after that, I found out from friends that it was originally cut and I'm not sure any version I've watched since then has it. I've never missed it.

I just think it's weird that every few years, there's a story about "here's the song you didn't see!" when it was very available on multiple formats.

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1 hour ago, grudlian. said:

The first time I saw it, it was included. Shortly after that, I found out from friends that it was originally cut and I'm not sure any version I've watched since then has it. I've never missed it.

I just think it's weird that every few years, there's a story about "here's the song you didn't see!" when it was very available on multiple formats.

That is an excellent point and I admit I was taken in by it.  I didn't research that when I posted my comment, although I did see that it had been available on VHS and such.  On reflection it is weird that there were multiple videos on YouTube for a supposedly "missing" song.  So much for my critical thinking skills. 🙂

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I meant to say earlier, but I really wanted agree with how deftly Gonzo and Rizzo weave in and out of the story. They provide exactly the right amount of exposition and humor. And when things take a turn to dark, they know to excuse themselves from the narrative. 

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Initially, I wasn't super into the narration. I'm not a big fan of voiceover, it has to really fit perfectly, and I didn't really think it was needed here at first. But Gonzo and Rizzo won me over pretty fast. They quickly feel both necessary and not at all in the way of the story, which is a good trick of writing. 

And of course this

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My thoughts on "When Love is Gone:" I wish it worked better. It would have served as more of an insight into both Scrooge and Belle's characters, but the way the scene works is that we're watching past Scrooge's story through present Scrooge's eyes as another human sings a slow, mournful song in a Muppet movie. It's just too much of a shift in tone and too far removed from the rest of the film, especially since the rest of the songs are so damn catchy and sung by those Muppet characters we're all already familiar with. "When Love is Gone" simply grinds the film to a halt. Plus, without it, you don't get a human character singing until after Scrooge has his magical Christmas Eve and is on a path to redemption. That way, his character turn, his mystical revelation, is all the more powerful.

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