As a child, I was gifted a VHS copy of The Muppet Christmas Carol. Since then, I have adored Jim Henson's adaptation of Charles Dickens' literary classic which brilliantly substitutes the beloved Muppet characters for the key roles in the Christmas fable. As with any adaptation, some liberties were taken, such as Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat combining to narrate the story, yet it is in these subtle nuances that the movie appeals to and satisfies the attention of children while intelligent jokes and puns keep the adult audience jolly and intrigued.
The impressive feat of this movie is its ability to maintain the core values, story lines, and morals behind Mr. Dickens' original masterpiece. The movie opens up, hitting hard on the sheer meanness of Ebeneezer Scrooge and (seemingly) the entire town's disdain for the miser. Song and dance by puppets elucidate the fair perceptions while conveying a comical undertone through many techniques, including purposely incorrect pluralization of words to fit rhyming schemes.
Through the woven tapestry that only Jim Henson could weave with the proverbial thread from Charles Dickens, the story ebbs and flows from comedy to plot, effortlessly glued together with incredibly well-written songs that drive home the felicity every Christmas movie needs. As any Dickens/A Christmas Carol fan knows, though, this story is not one that is 100% light and airy. In Scrooge's youth, through flashbacks with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, we find the true reasons for his paltry disposition.
In fact, Disney, who distributed the motion picture, was so focused on keeping the movie upbeat and cheery for children, that one of the most poignant songs in any movie ever was cut from the theatrical release of the film because they deemed the song too sorrowful for a children's movie. Audit the song for yourself here. Because Brian Henson, the movie's director, was unapologetically against its deletion, the scene was allowed to appear on all VHS full-screen versions. However, all televised renditions of the movie (and even electronic library versions, such as the one you'll find on Amazon Prime) continue to leave the heart-wrenching song out of the story. Frankly, its absence leaves the scene almost confusingly sad, and as a kid, I am not sure I would have understood why Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat were tearful simply after Belle expressed a belief that Scrooge once loved her. It seems disconnected and lacking substance.
While no spoilers will be found here, I highly recommend anyone looking for a heartwarming, moralistic, and child-friendly Christmas movie seek out Jim Henson's A Muppet Christmas Carol. You will find it is a favorite for years to come.