Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins
Running Time: 1 hr. 36 mins
Release Date: November 6, 2009
PLOT: Charles Dickens’ classic tale getting another version, this time in 3D. Scrooge (Carrey) is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve in the hopes that the old man can change his nasty ways.
WHO’S IT FOR? First and foremost, this is for people who love the story that’s been told many times. For the most part, it stays true to form. Those loving the third dimension will be pleased as well. Parents on the other hand will begin to worry right away when Scrooge removes some coins from a dead man’s eyes.
EXPECTATIONS: I’ve seen almost every version of this tale and lean toward A Muppet Christmas Carol as my personal fave. Jim Carrey has become hit or miss for me, but teaming him up with Zemeckis makes sense, especially having him play multiple characters. Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn in to an Eddie Murphy situation.
Jim Carrey as Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge as a Young Boy, Scrooge as a Teenage Boy, Scrooge as a Young Man, Scrooge as a Middle-Aged Man, Ghost of Christmas Present, Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Well, that’s it, that’s all the time we had, thanks for coming out folks! Man, that’s a lot of characters. His best, Scrooge. Hands down. Not even close. His worst, Ghost of Christmas Past. By far. It’s creepy wispering that sounds more like it should be coming from a snake in the Harry Potter series. And I know the Ghost of Christmas Present is happy and laughs, but come on you’re killing me. That’s not a funny, join me, kind of laugh. It’s annoying. I’d definitely score Carrey higher if he only voiced old-man Scrooge here.
Gary Oldman as Bob Cratchit, Marley, Tiny Tim: Oldman does just fine in embodying the do-gooder, over-achiever, Cratchit. If you think about it, this has to be one of the most beaten down men in film (novel) history. He’s got a huge, desperate family, and gets paid next to nothing to work for Scrooge. Does he complain? Nope, he wants to toast the man. Insane. Where’s his pride? Tiny Tim barely has any impact, though I think it has more to do with screen time than Oldman’s voice work.
Colin Firth as Fred: Wow. Only one character Firth? Pretty embarrassing. Actually, he’s good as the nephew of Scrooge, but I couldn’t get past the look of Fred. It just looks way to much like Disney’s Magic Kingdom event, The Hall of Presidents has come to life. Easily, he’s the worst animation of the group, and therefore, terribly distracting.
Bob Hoskins as Mr. Fezziwig: So, Scrooge was happy when working for Fezziwig. I get it. What I don’t get is, the entire world Scrooge lives in is real. Only magical things (like flight) can happen when he’s with the spirits. So why on Earth did Zemeckis decide to have Fezziwig capable of flipping around like a mad men? I just don’t get it. I know nobody else will care about this, but it kills me. There are movie rules people, and Zemeckis didn’t follow them here.
Robin Wright Penn as Belle: Wow, we get very little of Belle. Maybe Penn’s role was cut. I think she’s on screen for four minutes tops. Not enough time to serve any real purpose.
TALKING: This movie stays very true to Charles Dickens’ original dark tale. Again, this is a dark telling of the story. We just get hints of Tiny Tim and Belle, in their place are big, drawn out visuals. The one addition to the tale is Scrooge removing Marley’s coins from his eyes. It’s the perfect way to showcase just how tight Scrooge is with his money.
SIGHTS: It’s an amazing film to watch. I am speaking strictly in the 3D sense, that’s now I saw it. I can’t speak for those in only two dimensions. There are moments that run long, like when Scrooge is being chased by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (for some unknown reason), but that has nothing to do with being visually engaged from beginning to end. And even more troubling than having Scrooge remove a dead man’s coins, or fall into his coffin, would be the death scene for The Ghost of Christmas Present. If I had kids, their eyes would have been covered.
SOUNDS: The classics are present like “Joy to the World.” And I’ve mentioned it’s kind of creepy right? Well, the score fits right in place to make sure you’re comfortably uncomfortable.
BEST SCENE: I’m going to the well one more time. The opening of this film is dark and makes you realize you’re in store for something a little more serious. The rest of the film doesn’t live up to that, but for a few minutes, I was totally hooked (and glad I didn’t have a kid sitting next to me).
ENDING: Hey, why so quick? The best part of this tale is the happy redemption at the end. We didn’t get that. Instead Cratchit let’s us know everything is OK.
QUESTIONS: Why so dark Zemeckis? After all, it is called Disney’s A Christmas Carol. Also, why shrink Scrooge and send him on a huge race around town? More importantly, I think Zemeckis has proved his can use his eye-popping ability with 3D to create a truly great horror movie. Who’s with me?
REWATCHABILITY: Even though it’s just a little over an hour and a half, it feels longer. Especially considering none of the ghosts really worked for me (normally a very fun part like in Scrooged.) And without 3D, I’d be worried this movie could come off as worse.
If you want to see, and I mean really see a new version of A Christmas Carol, then this is for you. But here’s the thing, it had me actually questioning why I love the tale. Scrooge is mean. Scrooge has redemption forced upon him. Finally, after being beaten over the head with life lessons, such as “being lonely and mean suck” … he sees the light. It’s that light that truly excites me with the Carol tale. And that’s the part that fails for me with this newest version. There’s no heart, and I don’t put it simply on the visuals that almost look real at times. There just isn’t heaps of joy at the end. Instead, Zemeckis focused too much on adding a couple of action sequences. While that felt like a fun ride, OK maybe a ride, minus the fun, it almost removed the hook of the story. If it wasn’t for the beautiful 3D, many flaws would shine through even greater. I’m going to go find Kermit, Bill Murray or George C. Scott and have them tell me the story again.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10