Brian Henson directs his late father's creations in the Charles Dickens classic, the best known (and most oft-filmed) Christmas story of all time. Michael Caine plays the old miser Scrooge with Kermit as his long-suffering... more » but ever-hopeful employee Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Cratchit's wife, and a host of Muppets (including the Great Gonzo as an unlikely Charles Dickens) taking other primary roles in this bright, playful adaptation of the somber tale. Or at least it starts brightly enough--the anarchic humor soon settles into mirthful memories and a sense of melancholy as the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future take Scrooge on a journey of his lonely, wasted life. Michael Caine makes a wonderful Scrooge, delightfully rediscovering the meaning of life as fantastic creations from Henson's Creature Shop (developed specially for this film) take the reins as the three ghosts. While the odd mix of offbeat humor and somber drama undercuts the power of Dickens's drama, this kid-friendly retelling makes an excellent family drama that adults and children alike can enjoy. --Sean Axmaker« less
Doyle Elmo Collins | San Bernardino, CA | 10/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The five PLUS stars are for the MOVIE, not necessarily this 2005 DVD release . . . . (Now that I have seen the new DVD, I give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars. See explanation below.)
In Oct. 2002, Disney Home Video released its first DVD formatted THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. The response was both pro and con. The response that was negative dealt with two primary issues:
(1) That the 2002 DVD was pan-and-scan (AKA "full screen" or "1.33:1") instead of widescreen, and, in fact, unlike many DVDs, did not even offer the viewer a choice between pan-and-scan and widescreen. For fans of the movie who prefer widescreen, this was a great disappointment!
(2) That the 2002 DVD for Region 2 and perhaps other regions also removed the "When Love Is Gone" song. Disney has not, to my knowledge, offered an explanation for the removal. I would guess that it was because the song is "sad" and someone at Disney probably decided that such a "sad" song did not belong on a DVD intended for children.
Thus, that 2002 DVD had TWO strikes against it as far as MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL purists were concerned. At the Amazon site for that earlier DVD, you can find more than 130 reviews, many of which express PROFOUND disappointment about the lack of widescreen and the missing song. (Note: Amazon has accountably merged those 2002 reviews with the 2005 reviews. Just got toward the end of the list to see the older reviews.)
Fast forward to 2005, just a couple of months ago. Disney announced a new release of this film--The Muppet Christmas Carol - Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition. Eager fans immediately assumed that this would be the long-awaited anamorphic widescreen version. However, various statements and press releases listed the movie as 1.33:1 or, in other words, pan-and-scan. When this was discovered, the fans HOWLED at what seemed like a betrayal and an absence of common-sense by the people at Disney. THEN, within a few days of the official announcement, Disney "back-peddled" and issued a new announcement that the first one was in error and that the 50th Anniversary version would be in BOTH pan-and-scan and widescreen. The ***SIGH*** of relief was like a wind that rushed across the globe!
But now comes the TRICKY PART that tries to answer your specific question. Some fans who have contacts within the industry or have means of mining the Internet, discovered that the CONTENT of the pan-and-scan and the widescreen versions that would be on the same disc would be different in that one would have the afore mentioned song and one would not. As mentioned HERE in these reviews for this new release, apparently the version to contain the song is the pan-and-scan version--which, if it's true--is a totally incomprehensible creative decision. (Why would the the version that was TRUE to the widescreen format be missing the song, thereby compromising that version?)
Right now, as a GIANT FAN of MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, who has longed for a widescreen DVD since the advent of DVD, I am hoping that there has been some miscommunication going on (for example, look above at the official aspect ratio listed in the Product Details. On today's date of Oct. 13, 2005, it's listed as 1.33:1, so the facts about this release seem to be unfortunately garbled!)
Incidentally, there exists a WIDESCREEN (though obviously not anamorphic) Laserdisc version of the film that INCLUDES the song "When Love Is Gone." I know because I own it . . . and it is among my most precious possessions!!
All we can do is wait until November 29 to find out what this new release will truly hold. I personally hope there will be an anamorphic widescreen version that also includes "When Love Is Gone."
ADDENDUM: Well, yesterday was November 29, 2005, and I picked up this DVD. There's good news, bad news, and some qualified good news. The anamorphic widescreen image far exceeds any previous video or DVD version. However, the rumours are TRUE that the widescreen does NOT include the wonderful song "When Love Is Gone," and that the fullscreen version DOES include it as "Extended with Deleted Scene." However, for the diehard, there is this awkward-but-workable compensation: The two versions are on the same side of the DVD, thus when the widescreen version comes to the point when the song should be sung, you can use your remote to go back to the menu, choose fullscreen, go to chapter 5, listen to the song, and then go back to widescreen to view the rest of this glorious Christmas movie. It is a BIG pain and an unfathomably poor decision by the suits at Disney!
Since a complete widescreen version obviously does exist in the Disney archives (the Laserdisc version in the mid 90s was both widescreen AND complete), one can only wonder how and why Disney made this very insensitive and unprofessional decision!
Neverthless, FINALLY having MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL in anamorphic widescreen is definitely a plus. Being able to see all the Muppet antics clear to the sides of the screen is a pure joy, and not being forced to watch tastelessly SQUISHED images is a tremendous relief! Also, this disk is the best resolution (though not perfect) that has ever been available in any home media format, and the Dolby Digital sound is quite acceptable.
Since this is likely to be the last DVD version of this movie for quite some time, we should (1) continue to ponder Disney's callous obliviousness and its clear childish stubbornness to do what's right, while (2) counting our blessings that at least we are nonetheless PART way to the ideal MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL DVD.
Talk about MIXED emotions! I think that one problem is that nobody at Disney is clear that the film is a true work of art, instead of "just a movie stamped out for kids." I think nobody there realizes that the film deserves far more respect than the grudging, lackluster, shoddy efforts they have so far foisted on the public. I am very pleased to see the many astute reviewers for this new edition over and again make this point exceedingly clear! THE WORST OF IT IS THAT IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!
BTW, on November 29, 2005, Garan Grey posted a review mentioning several EXCELLENT points underscoring Disney's faulty decision-making--especially about the lackluster special features, recycled menu design, and so forth, in what is supposed to be a very special "special edtion"! However, this reviewer says: "By the way, it seems that the "widescreen" version is just matted down from the full 35mm 1.33 frame, so the fullscreen version is not missing any of the picture." In point of fact, ALL pan&scan versions that I have seen (INCLUDING the pan&scan on this very disc) SQUISHES the titles, cuts Muppets off the sides of the movie, and even sometimes squishes scenes so the characters look tall and skinny. Which is WHY I have been waiting for the widescreen for years! In general, I'd say that Garan Grey is definitely incorrect on this point."
Be advised: widescreen version is not uncut.
Paul McElligott | Lake Forest, CA | 09/01/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD contains a 4:3 version and a 16:9 widescreen version.
Disney Home Video reps have confirmed that only the 4:3 pan & scan version is the home video version which contains the full version of this movie. The widescreen version is the theatrical cut and does not include the song "When Love is Gone"."
Two beloved classics combined
Michael J. Mazza | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 10/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charles Dickens' classic tale "A Christmas Carol" has probably been adapted for stage, screen, and TV more than any other story in the history of literature. Many have been really great -- the Mr. Magoo animated version, Patrick Stewart's one-man stage show, the George C. Scott version, etc. But one of the best is definitely "The Muppet Christmas Carol," directed with heart and intelligence by Brian Henson. This version is particularly noteworthy because it combines two beloved pop-culture icons: Dickens' story and the Jim Henson Muppets.It's been a long time since I read Dickens' original text, but from what I remember, the MCC is quite faithful to Dickens. Like the other Muppet films, MCC combines human actors with the whimsical Muppet characters (just in case you don't know what a Muppet is, it's a sort of puppet). The great Michael Caine plays Scrooge, and the Muppets play other Dickens characters: Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy is Mrs. Cratchit, etc.One clever touch is having Charles Dickens (portrayed by Muppet Gonzo the Great) appear as a narrator in the film. Gonzo/Dickens is accompanied by Rizzo the Rat, and the two have some great comic banter and slapstick humor. This device nicely complements the main story without distracting from it. The film is enhanced by some lovely songs; my favorite is the one sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present.Dickens' original "Carol" is, at its core, a compassionate and life-affirming story, and the Muppet version is right on target in preserving the soul of the tale. There are some genuinely sweet and moving touches (such as one Muppets' gift to Scrooge) that combine well with the trademark Muppet humor. Add to this good special effects, fine performances (both human and Muppet), and impressive sets and costumes, and you have a true classic: a film for every member of the family. In "The Muppet Christmas Carol," Brian Henson and his Muppets prove that, with imagination and skill, new life can be breathed into a favorite old story."
DVD NOT IN WIDESCREEN, Disney should be ashamed!!
Stephen P. Osvath | Medina, OH USA | 10/07/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This film is one of the Christmas classics and a favorite of our whole family's. The film deserves "5-stars." However, Disney chose to release "pan-and-scan" only for the DVD. Since pan-and-scan chops off the sides so that the movie is the same aspect ratio as a standard TV, we're only seeing half of the film. Therefore, I can give this "VHS with chapter stops" version of the film no more than two stars.Disney should be ashamed of themselves, ... ruining such a wonderful film with a sub-par DVD release. I was really looking forward to seeing this film as it was seen in the theaters (i.e. in WIDESCREEN). Maybe another year.Perhaps Disney is letting art imitate life. Perhaps, ... just perhaps, ... they will turn over a new leaf like Ebeneezer Scrooge and start releasing films in their Original Aspect Ratio!!We can only dream."
A Christmas Classic! Disappointing DVD!
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 12/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A full five-stars for the wonderful "The Muppet Christmas Carol." I am amazed that a fresh and interesting take can be found on the often re-made Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." Muppet movies are hit-or-miss at best, and this one is either the top 1 or 2.Michael Caine is brilliant as Scrooge, and the combination of the completely straight Caine and the antics of the muppets creates a wonderful reality, blending the original ghost story with a heartwarming chaser. The DVD contains two really nice special features, including a very interesting "Making of..." featurette , and a nice "Christmas's Across the World" featurette. The "Making of...." featurette is one of the most interesting that I have seen, quite long with cast interviews, special effects, song information and pretty much everything you could want.However, several really disappointing choices were made on this DVD release, including producing a full-screen edition and eliminating the song "The Love is Gone" from the UK edition. When I buy a DVD, I want to full movie, not 75% or it with the edges trimmed off. Also, the exclusion of "The Love is Gone" from the UK edition makes no sense, as it is singled out to be the most important transition point of the movie during the "Making of..." featurette."