The Muppets Bring More Joy And Heart To The Holidays With New Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Jim Henson was without a doubt, one of the most creative minds in both television and movies during his life.  So it goes without saying that in his death, the world lost both a great person and a great mind.  Considering the success of movies such as Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The Muppet Show, following up the success of those features while paying tribute to the Henson’s memory at the same time would not be easy.  However, Disney and Henson’s son made a valiant effort to accomplish both tasks with the release of The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992.  Now twenty years after the original release of that story Disney has re-issued it onto a new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for a whole new generation of audiences to enjoy. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol is just one of any number of renditions of Charles Dickens’ classic literary tale.  There are so many different takes on the classic tale that it would seem that one needs a program to tell them all apart.  This modern take on the classic tale is enjoyable first and foremost for its general structure.  Rather than trying to be just another take on Dickens’ story, it comes across as a stage play on screen instead of a movie.  The sets and musical numbers alone give it that feel.  And the cast’s acting adds to that feel, too.  Veteran actor Michael Caine (Secondhand Lions, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) does an expert job leading the cast as the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge.  While Caine does an extraordinary job as Scrooge, it’s The Great Gonzo and Rizzo who take the story’s other light.  Unlike other versions of A Christmas Carol in which the narrator is only heard and not seen, Gonzo takes on the mantle of Dickens, helping to guide viewers through the story on screen.  In its own manner, this is actually a visual aid of sorts for viewers.  It’s a very valuable aid, too.  The comic turns between Gonzo and Rizzo add for even more entertainment for viewers, as well.  Audiences will enjoy the pair’s physical comedy throughout the movie.  At one point, Rizzo falls down a chimney with rather warm results.  And the pair gets knocked off more than one window sill as it attempts to help viewers follow the story.  These are just a handful of examples of how the cast’s acting makes The Muppet Christmas Carol enjoyable for the family.  The acting aside, there is at least another aspect that makes this two decade old story enjoyable even today.  That aspect is the movie’s general presentation.  

The acting of both Caine and the puppeteers does a lot to make The Muppet Christmas Carol a believable and enjoyable story.  But it’s not all that contributes to the movie’s success.  The on-screen stage presentation is what really puts The Muppet Christmas Carol over the top.  As noted already, there are so many renditions of A Christmas Carol out there that it’s tough to keep them all straight.  Among that mass of different takes are movies that are obviously take offs of that story, just with different titles.  The Muppet Christmas Carol does the exact opposite of those adaptations.  Rather, it opted to pay homage to the original in its own way.  Instead of trying to be another movie adaptation of the original story, it takes the avenue of being a stage play complete with enjoyable musical numbers and sets that make audiences feel as if they’re watching a play on screen.  Combined with the acting, the musical numbers and sets will pull audiences in with ease and keep their attention throughout the near hour and a half story.  And for those audiences who perhaps might have to get up during the movie for any reason, they are treated to something very special courtesy of the bonus “Intermission” feature.  The “Intermission” feature allows audiences to pause the movie and enjoy extra musical numbers courtesy of other members of the Muppets cast.

Speaking of bonus features, the bonus features presented in the previous DVD presentation of The Muppet Christmas Carol are carried over to this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack along with a pair of new additions.  The “Intermission” feature is one of that pair of new features.  The other new feature is an interview with Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson, who helmed this new take on the holiday standard.  The manner in which the interview was conducted is worth its own share of laughs.  That’s because Henson shares the moment with Gonzo and Rizzo.  The three discuss different aspects of the film and behind-the scenes stories that will keep the entire family especially entertained.  It’s just one more part of the whole that makes the new 20th Anniversary Edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol fun for the whole family this and every holiday season. 

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The not so new Muppets is still great nostalgic family fun

Thank you Jason Segel.  Thank you Disney.  Thank you for bringing one of the most beloved franchises in the history of both television and movies back to life.  In an era when so few truly family friendly movies exist, the return of The Muppets is a breath of fresh air.

This new installment in the Muppets franchise isn’t exactly the most original work.  It lifts very liberally from most of the previous movies in the Muppets franchise.  And it goes without saying that it goes way over the top with its glut of blatantly Broadway style musical numbers.  Sure the other Muppets movies have musical numbers.  But not to the extent of this one.  All of that aside, star and co-writer Jason Segel is to be commended for his role in bringing this beloved franchise back to life.  Segel has stated that he grew up with Jim Henson’s characters.  That would explain the constant references to the previous Muppets movies.  Considering that, Segel and co. can be forgiven for essentially rehashing said movies and tossing them into a big pot for this flick.  It could be argued that making so many references to the other Muppets movies might even go so far as to raise interest in them, and bring that much more interest in the Muppets mong this new generation.

For the issues that The Muppets has, there’s also plenty of good in it.  The most obvious of the movie’s positive aspects is in the statement of The Muppets’ relevance in today’s cultural world..  The story presents that Muppets in a world in which they are no longer relevant, or so they think.  That is until Walter and his brother,  Gary (played by Jason segel) try to get the gang back together.  It’s not the first time that’s been done in a Muppets movie.  In the real world, of course, the Muppets have always been relevant.  There has really never been a time when the Muppets haven’t been relevant.  Now thanks to this new movie, Kermit, Miss PIggy, Animal, Rolf, and all the rest will likely be even more relevant than ever.  It’s kept these beloved characters alive for a whole new generation.  And with any luck, this new generation will carry the Muppets torch lit for the generation that follows it.  More than likely, as the movie’s ending shows, there’s little rason to worry about that.  Suffice to say that while this new incarnation of The Muppets isn’t overly original, Jim Henson would still be proud of it if he were with us