Christmas Comedy Countdown: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Following the death of Jim Henson in 1990, his son Brian Henson stepped up to make his directorial debut in 1992 with The Muppet Christmas Carol. Arguably the most enduringly popular of all the Muppet films, it's even still shown in some cinemas in the UK in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

But what is it that makes The Muppet Christmas Carol so popular?

I think a lot of what makes this film work so well is Micheal Caine's performance. He said he wanted to play it totally straight, without any awareness that he was acting opposite puppets, and that's really the key to its success.

Gonzo and Rizzo took leading roles, which was a new direction for The Muppets, and this may have been something to do with the team being nervous about debuting a new operator for Kermit, Steve Whitmire. But as Kermit was naturally suited to the role of Bob Cratchit, this may have caused him to take a bit of a back seat. However, as always, Kermit steals the show with the song 'One More Sleep 'til Christmas'.

The songs are one of the film's strongest assets. The Muppet movies always tend to have a high standard of songs, but here we enjoy the strongest set list since the original 1974 Muppet Movie, perhaps only matched with Bret Mackenzie's soundtracks to the two most recent Muppet movies.

Disney actually felt that the film was a bit too upsetting for young children, and after a few years they controversially edited out the 'When Love is Gone' scene. Therefore this hasn't been available since the VHS release - this is despite the fact that there are campaigns every year to put it back, and fans have even resorted to making their own copies, adding in the scene, which someone helpfully uploaded from a laserdisc copy! Yes, that's how much we all care about this film. You can watch that scene below:

Here's a fun fact: in the scene where Bunsen and Beaker are turned away by Scrooge you can quite clearly see Beaker stick his finger up at him. This clearly went unnoticed by Disney at the time.

The respect to the original story is clear to see. There's a lovely touch where you see a lobster hanging out of a basement hatch/window, and this is apparently a reference to a bizarre phrase from A Christmas Carol: 'like bad lobster in a dark cellar' . Whatever that means?

Our narrator throughout the film is Gonzo, who reads some of the more famous original lines from Dickens's text. However, Kermit's Bob Cratchit has my favourite line in the movie:

'Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it. I am sure that we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us.'

I'd always thought that this was my favourite quote of Dickens. However, it wasn't until years later, when I was reading A Christmas Carol, that I realised that this quote never appears. It was in fact a quote from that other great philosopher: Kermit the frog!

Written by Rhianna Evans

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