Muppet Christmas Carol – A Christmas Eve Tradition
Watching The Muppet Christmas Carol has been a Christmas Eve tradition for my family since before I can remember. The quirky Muppet Gonzo narrates the story of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, accompanied by his faithful sidekick Rizzo The Rat
Rizzo is not familiar with the story, but shows interest and asks questions along the journey of the main protagonist, Scrooge.
The Finest Cinematic Rendition
Dickens, a famous British literary master wrote A Christmas Carol. His story is timeless. There have been many cinematic renditions of this tale of Scrooge and the ghosts who visit him, but in my opinion, the Muppets and Disney do it best!
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a musical with brilliant lyrics.
The action starts when Scrooge, played by the great Michael Cain, is described through song.
The vegetables sing, “if he was a flavor, I bet he would be sour.” The music throughout the movie is thoughtful and helps to tell the story in a way relatable to all ages.
A Real Scrooge
Scrooge is a shrewd business man and landlord. He covets money above anything else, but holds on to his riches, even refusing to give his bookkeepers extra coal for the fire in the frigid old London winter.
Fred, Scrooge’s only living relative, stops by his office on Christmas Eve to invite his uncle to Christmas dinner with he and his wife.
Scrooge curses, “If I would work my will, every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas on his lips would be cooked with his own Turkey and buried…” Two gentlemen, played by Bunsen and Beaker, enter the office to ask about Christmas charitable donations for the poor and homeless.
Fred gives his small donation. Scrooge says his taxes go to pay “for the prisons and the poorhouses.”
The men say some would rather die than go to those places. The “humbug” Scrooge replies, “If they’d rather die, then they better do it and decrease the surplus population.”
By this point, you get the picture that Ebenezer Scrooge is a horrible, unhappy person.
Magic in the Air
Many people read or watch A Christmas Carol around the holidays, but my family watches the Muppets specifically on Christmas Eve because of the song sung by Bob Cratchit, played by Kermit the Frog, after Scrooge agrees to give him Christmas off due to the lack of business.
Scrooge leaves the office for the night, and the bookkeepers and Mr. Cratchit get ready to close up for the holiday. Bob Cratchit holds Christmas in his heart and sings “there’s magic in the air today, that’s good for everyone…after all there’s only one more sleep till Christmas.”
My sisters and I used to get so excited and sang along knowing that the next morning we were going to wake up to a sparkling tree with wrapped gifts beneath it.
As an adult the excitement of receiving gifts is not as enchanting, but this movie is so sentimental and sends such a powerful message of greed and what it does to people.
Scrooge is visited first by the damned ghosts of his former partners “Marley and Marley.” The two are wrapped in chains and in shackles and warn Scrooge that if he does not change his ways, he will end up like them. The spirits tell him he will be visited by three ghosts.
The ghost of Christmas past visits first. She is a glowing, wispy figure who takes Scrooge to his old school. They watch Christmas days throughout Scrooge’s childhood. He does not focus on his reclusive, work-driven holidays. Instead Scrooge is almost giddy in nostalgia when he sees his old classmates and professor.
The Love is Gone
Next the spirit takes him to a Christmas party of his first employer’s, Fozziwig (Fezziwig, played by Fozzie Bear). This is where Scrooge meets his one love, Clara. In the next scene Scrooge is shown the Christmas he lost Clara because he was too concerned about money matters, pushing their wedding back farther and farther.
There used to be a song at this part when I had the movie on VHS. Clara sings “The Love Is Gone.” At this point you can see why Scrooge is such a “humbug.” He never had a merry Christmas.
The second ghost is one of Christmas present. The spirit is loud, innocently positive, and joyful. He sings a song that is to show Scrooge how wonderful it is to hold Christmas with a “Thankful Heart.” “It’s in the singing of a street corner choir, it’s going home and getting warm by the fire. Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas.”
With a song in his heart, Scrooge and the spirit go to visit Bob Cratchit’s house. He finally sees poverty with an open mind. It brings him joy to see Bob and his family together. Scrooge sees Cratchit’s son “Tiny Tim.” Tim is week and walks with a crutch; somehow this pulls at Scrooge’s heartstrings and he is concerned about his health.
The final spirit says nothing, but shows Scrooge Christmas yet to come. When he sees that Tiny Tim has passed away he feels a sorrowful emotion. The spirit takes Scrooge to a graveyard where he is shown a tombstone with his name on it.
Scrooge begs the spirit to tell him that the future can be rewritten. He claims he is a changed man and will hold Christmas in his heart.
An hysterical Scrooge wakes up in his own bed. He is gleeful that he is given the chance to change. He promises he “will not shut out the lessons the spirits taught.” He dresses and heads out to greet the people (and muppets) of the city, singing about living with “a grateful prayer and a thankful heart.” He offers a donation to the men from the day before; he gives Fred and Clara gifts, and he even gives the mice a block of cheese wrapped in red ribbon.
Scrooge and the many that follow him show up at Bob Cratchit’s house. Mrs. Cracthit, played by Miss Piggy is ready to tackle Mr. Scrooge and give him a “piece of her mind,” but catches herself in her rant and hears what Scrooge had said. He promises Bob a raise in salary and to pay off his mortgage.
In the final scene everyone is crowded around a large, golden turkey and break into the final song… “The love we found, we carry with us so we’re never quite alone.” And Tiny Tim exclaims, “God bless us, every one.”
The message of Dickens’ Christmas Carol is masterfully performed and put into catchy lyrical poetry by the Muppets, Hensons and Disney.
This film is a great way to introduce children to classical literature, but it is also extremely witty and entertaining.
My sisters and I are all adults now, but A Muppet Christmas Carol stays part of the tradition, because, “After all, there’s only one more sleep till Christmas.”
Special thanks to Emily Shannon for writing this article! Emily Shannon lives fifteen minutes from the happiest place on earth. She grew up going to the parks and has loved Disney all her life.