Media Nerds Podcast

Kenton:
Dan:

12 days of christmas

Day 8 – The Muppet Christmas Carol

the-muppet-christmas-carol-christmas-movies-2427768-779-388

I’m going to make this one short and sweet, because while I have no problem watching all of these movies in the evenings after the kids go to bed, this whole “blogging about each one” thing is pretty time consuming. I’ve got last minute shopping to do!

Anyhoo, The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of many, many film adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic novella. Since we’re all familiar with the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his moral redemption via the visitation of three ghosts, I’ll skip the summary and just talk about why this particular adaptation is one of my all-time favorites.

Released in 1992, The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first Muppet movie to be released after the death of Jim Henson. It was directed by his son Brian (now Chairman of the Jim Henson Company) and stars Michael Caine as Scrooge, along with the usual Muppet suspects. I watched it with my kids via my cable provider’s on demand rental service.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jzsKJvWiEI&w=853&h=480]

Simply put, this is a fun and uplifting version of an age-old story. While other adaptations take a decidedly dark tone at times, this film does not, even during the Ghost of Christmas Future scene. The original “Muppetized” content, namely the songs, keep this film light-hearted and family-friendly. The music is awesome, in true Muppet fashion and the dialogue and side jokes (particularly between Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat) are very funny.

tumblr_mlw6f7lbC71sos7xno1_400

And Michael Caine! Best. Scrooge. Ever. Without a doubt. This is only my second-favourite version of A Christmas Carol (Scrooged being #1) but it’s my favorite portrayal of the traditional Ebenezer Scrooge. Caine plays it perfectly and sincerely, as though he’s talking to real people instead of three-foot-tall felt puppets. He is what makes this film so good.

So give it a try if you’ve never seen it before, or re-watch it if its been a few years. The Muppet Christmas Carol is absolutely a film that will give you all the Christmas warm fuzzies that you can handle.

Next up, I go dark again with the Finnish film Rare Exports.

Day 1 – Arthur Christmas

arthur-christmas-pic02

Santa, the S1, and his thousands of elves (Arthur’s the one in the green).

Arthur Christmas is an animated film produced by the British Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Flushed Away) and distributed by Sony Pictures Animation. It stars James McAvoyHugh LaurieBill Nighy and Jim Broadbent as a multi-generational family of Santas. It has a fresh rating of 91% on rottentomatoes.com, and I watched it on Netflix.

Arthur Christmas begins with the question: “How does Santa deliver presents to children all around the world in just one night?” The answer? A giant spaceship-sized sleigh that can travel  200,000 mph, complete with an extremely advanced computer system and thousands of elves who deliver the majority of presents covert ops-style. Santa is largely a figurehead who delivers one token present per town, with a lot of help from the elves. He doesn’t do much else, as he’s getting on in his old age, and is somewhat absent-minded.

You see, this Santa (aka Malcolm Christmas) is the latest in a long line of Santa Clauses, as the responsibility of delivering presents on Christmas Eve is passed down from father to son over the generations. Malcolm has two sons: Steve and Arthur. Steve (big, strong, alpha male) is the one behind the technology, spaceship, etc and runs Mission Control back at the North Pole while Santa makes his rounds. Arthur (small, shy, clumsy, but with a good heart) works in the Letters department, answering children’s letters to Santa.

On this particular Christmas, Steve and his team are successful in delivering 2 billion presents to children worldwide. They are celebrating another successful completed Christmas mission when Bryony, an elf from the Wrapping Division, discovers one present left over on the sleigh. This, of course, means that one child has been missed and will wake up on Christmas Day without a present from Santa. Steve, who thinks in terms of numbers and percentages, doesn’t see this as a problem – this falls well within his margin of error. Arthur, on the other hand, feels that they absolutely have to find a way to deliver this final present before sunrise. Adventurous antics ensue.

I loved Arthur Christmas. It’s a fresh take on the Santa legend, with a good script and excellent voice acting from some of Britain’s best. This film explores how Christmas has changed over the years, but from the perspective of Santa Claus. The theme of “new vs old” is central to the story, with Steve and his newfangled technology on the one side, and “Grand Santa” (Bill Nighy) with his traditional sleigh and eight tiny reindeer on the other.

arthur-christmas-animation-movie-006.png~original

Grand Santa shows Arthur how things were done in his day.

It’s a fun ride, my kids LOVED it, and I can definitely see this film becoming a part of our annual Christmas viewing tradition.

Next up: Go.