Hello Offbeaters! To all you student folk, congrats for (probably) making it through finals! And to all you non-student folk, how lucky you are to never have to exam again (we know about the bills, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole).
This week The Offbeat is back to give a more Season/Holiday-Based recommendation. Now, disclaimer, we are totally into all kinds of winter holidays. Honestly, if you have any great interesting ones we don’t know about, feel free to mention them in the comments. But today, mainly because our blog manager has a deep and disturbing obsession with Charles Dickens, we will be recommending a decently-known but still totally offbeat movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Now, yeah, movies that do the whole _______ Christmas Carol thing (EX: Insert Mickey, Flintstones, Barbie, etc.) can be a little tiring. Most times, they literally tell the same stories and self-insert their characters in because they can. Its like a lot of crossover fan art; its super cute to see a drawing of Disney Princesses as different characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender categories, but it would be a little weird to have a whole movie of it. That’s kind of what these movies do, which can be pretty weird at times.
And now that I said that and discredited everything, really believe me that The Muppet’s Christmas Carol manages to do really well to not do that at all. For one, Ebeneezer Scrooge is played by a human actor and no one from the Muppet’s cast. Michael Caine is actually playing Scrooge, so its a great actor acting in a really interesting and complex role.
Also, the common characteristics of the Muppet characters are toned down to better fit the movie. For example, its clear in all other Muppet properties that though Kermit and Miss Piggy are a couple, she comes off really strong and that can cause problems with them. In this story, that is completely scrapped to focus just on the affectionate aspects of the KermitxPiggy relationship to make them more like the loving, stable Bob and Emily Cratchit that they portray.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, an example being that for a joke Sam the Eagle accidentally praises America instead of England, but mostly they stay more true to the Dicken’s characters than to their typical Muppet character.
The only characters who seem to pretty much keep their character are Gonzo and Rizzo The Rat, and that’s mainly because they act as narrators and Gonzo is pretending(ish?) that he is the great Charles Dickens, and telling this story to watchers and Rizzo. They wander around the entire time, omniscient but still in the scenes, there to add humor to things and throw around clever quips and quotes from the novel itself.
The film isn’t perfect, it has some cheesy moments and has some songs that are too much for a Dickens novel, but it also has supremely heartwarming moments and Rizzo and Gonzo as awkward narrators is surprisingly refreshing. Gonzo even gives direct quotations from the prose sections of A Christmas Carol, giving a nice addition to respecting Dickens’ work. Also, the story kind of sets up from the beginning that the rules of this introduced world are a little odd, so it gives them more wiggle-room to do some more odd things.
Some things don’t hold up as well, as this movie was made in 1992, so I can’t really tell if some ghost things look interesting or creepy at this point (you’ll know what I mean if you watch). Yet its still an offbeat, clever flick that knows its only a retelling and not Dickens and has fun with it. A lot of Christmas Carol retellings take it very serious, which is all right since the story is so serious. But its also still Dickens’ story, and his kind of in-depth descriptions can easily be hard to translate to film which can make stumbling over the story quite easy. So The Muppet version having their fun with it feels like a nice change of pace, while still having touching, warm moments to keep the heart and depth of the story alive. If you’re daring, feel free to jump onto this Muppet adventure into Dickens.
And now after rambling forever, all I’ve gotta say is that its a good, offbeat flick to try out. It gives you all the Christmas feel-goods while also having some humor, charm, and new cleverness mixed in too. Its pretty decently done and even though its over 20 years old, I still watch it every year. Take it from a Dickens lover, this one is a pretty good time.
There we have it, Offbeaters, another hype recommendation from The Offbeat. I hope you enjoy it and like I said, truly feel free to recommend to US some more diverse holiday movies. We’d love to recommend them to everyone else too.
Don’t be a Humbug, happy holidays, and stay weird.
(This post is accredited to our communications team member and blog manager, Stephanie Marceau)