Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol as performed by The Muppets. This is the first feature length Muppet production since the deaths of original Muppet performers Jim Henson (Kermit) and Richard Hunt (Scooter). It is the first of the Muppet films (so far, three) that adapts a famous story with the Muppets acting both as themselves and as characters from them. It stars Michael Caine as Scrooge. Oh, it's also a musical.The film largely follows the story of the book with the typical Muppet humor thrown in. The film was praised for using specially created Muppets to portray the ghosts, instead of established Muppets, in order to keep true to Dickens's descriptions and, remarkably, is actually one of the most faithful Christmas Carol adaptations, with most of the dialogue intact and the omniscient narration quoted in large chunks by the character of Dickens himself - it's just that it's spoken by Muppets.The film is also the first time Gonzo the Great and Rizzo the Rat appeared as a double act. Gonzo played Charles Dickens and acts as the narrator, while Rizzo is well… Rizzo.The film was followed up with Muppet Treasure Island in 1996. It also had humans playing vital roles while The Muppets played supporting characters.
Sam the Eagle, as a gaffe, says his Catch Phrase "It's the American Way" when telling Young Ebenezer he is to join a business upon graduation. Ebenezer gives him a confused look and Gonzo has to hushedly inform Sam that they're in England, whereupon Sam amends his catchphrase to "It's the British way."
Jacob and Robert Marley, during Fozziwig's christmas party, has them sitting in a VIP balcony for some reason while heckling Fozziwig. Guess who the Marley brothers are portrayed by (and Fozziwig, for that matter)?
Gonzo retains his attraction to chickens, introducing one he and Rizzo somehow pickup while being dragged through the woods as Louise, and getting Distracted by the Sexy when Camilla walks by at Fozziwig's.
Ambiguous Gender: This movie's version of the Ghost of Christmas Past. It's... possibly a girl. We think. Maybe. At the very least it's voiced by a woman. As the spiritual manifestation of a concept, it may not really have one at all.
Mrs. Cratchit: I suppose that on the blessed day of Christmas, one must drink to the health of, uh, Mr Scrooge, even though he is odious... Daughters: Mm-hmm. Mrs. Cratchit: ...stingy... Daughters: Mm-hmm. Mrs. Cratchit: ...wicked... Daughters: Mm-hmm. Mrs. Cratchit: ...and unfeeling... Daughters: Mm-hmm. Mrs. Cratchit ...and badly dressed! [daughters gasp]
Big Eater: Rizzo, constantly searching for or noticing food during the narration.
Gonzo: I know the story of A Christmas Carol like the back of my hand! Rizzo: Prove it! Gonzo: All right. [averts his eyes and holds his hand out] Um, there's a little mole on my thumb, and a scar on my wrist, from when I fell off my bicycle- Rizzo: [shaking his head] No, no, no, don't tell us your hand, tell us the story!
Cut Song: "When Love Is Gone" is absent from the original theatrical release, some versions of the DVD, and the Blu-Ray, but appeared on the many TV airings (before later Christmas specials supplanted it) and the VHS and laserdisc copies. Especially egregious because it's reprised at the end with different lyrics...
There's another verse on "Marley and Marley," but only on the soundtrack:
The way the track is set up on the OST makes it sound like the explanation of the spirits originally came after this part, but in practice it probably ran on a little too long and was cut from the final filmed version.
The soundtrack, as mentioned, has the expanded version of this along with wholly Cut Songs for Honeydew and Sam the Eagle (which are not present in any released film cut and were apparently not filmed at all).
Darker and Edgier: The movie follows very closely the book, and can be seen as very dark for a Muppet movie. The emotion is often put before the laughter, Gonzo and Rizzo provide more than half of the comic relief, and the part with the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is both be scary and sad. The Marley scene is one of the most Nightmare Fuel in the franchise, even though they are portrayed by Statler and Waldorf.
Dedication: This movie is dedicated to Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, both of whom died shortly before production.
Demoted to Extra: While most of the characters they once performed are given new puppeteers and voices here, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth and Janice are reduced to non-speaking cameos and Scooter is completely absent.
Disneyfication: Subverted. While this starts out being lighthearted, when Scrooge appears, it's clear it's not really pulling that many punches. Many Dickens fans believe this to be one of the better adaptations, mostly due to the inclusion of Gonzo as Dickens himself, which basically amounts to Gonzo providing narration straight out of the book. Much of the dialogue in the movie (as well as some of the lyrics) is simply lifted directly from the book as well, albeit with the standard Muppet humor added here and there.
Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Scrooge, he's back-lit so all we see is an ominous silhouette, the sinister music starts up and Rizzo shivers and asks "Say, is it getting cold around here?"
Flanderization: Somewhat on Scrooge, who is portrayed as having been a stodgy workaholic since childhood. This is possibly because his sister was cut out of the story, and he's still shown as being a lonely boy.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Throughout the course of the movie Beaker flips off Scroogenote Granted, he only has four fingers, so it might be his index finger, but the outrage is definitely there, Gonzo says "Damn it," and Miss Piggy gropes Kermit. There's also the complaint of Scrooge's clerks: "our assets are frozen!"
Large And In Charge: Scrooge, being human, towers over his <3 foot tall underlings, and pretty much the entire Muppet cast. Used to good effect in the opening number, where he wades through a sea of knee-high Muppets singing about how oppressive he is.
Last Disrespects: While not actually showing the funeral, three pigs say they'll only go to Scrooge's funeral "if lunch is provided".
Made Myself Sad: Scrooge is visited by the Marley brothers, a.k.a. Statler and Waldorf. They openly admit that, in life, they were selfish and heartless bankers, and they even reminisce about evicting an entire orphanage in the middle of winter. This makes them break out into their trademark laugh, which almost immediately degenerates into a shudder, and they move on to warn Scrooge to repent from the mistakes they made.
When Gonzo asks Rizzo if he was ever a lonely child, Rizzo replies, "I had 1,274 brothers and sisters!"
The Ghost of Christmas Present had more than 1,800 brothers, each of them representing a year of Christmas.
Match Cut: The movie uses several of these very well to put Scrooge back in his room following a ghost visit; probably the most famous one is his sitting on the bridge following the "When Love Is Gone" sequence, in which he sits on the railing of the small bridge, and the entire scene dissolves back to his bedchamber, with Scrooge sitting on his bed, having seemingly not moved an inch, reinforcing the book's question of just how real it all is.
Midword Rhyme: "We're Marley and Marley/ Our hearts were painted black/ We should have known our evil deeds/ Would put us both in shackles..."
No Fourth Wall: Characters will routinely drop character and speak directly to the viewer during the film. Of course, this is only standard procedure for The Muppets (and it's usually just Gonzo and Rizzo doing this).
The Other Darrin: This was the first appearance of Steve Whitmire as Kermitnote although Whitmire previously voiced Kermit for the prime time "The Muppets Remember Jim Henson" special and Beaker, Jerry Nelson as Statler, and Dave Goelz as Waldorf.
Running Gag: Gonzo and Rizzo always seem to be in front of a window that needs opening...
Scenery Porn: Everything you'd expect from a screen adaptation of "A Christmas Carol".
Shoo Out the Clowns: Gonzo and Rizzo vanish from the scene after the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows up, not returning until after Scrooge wakes up in his own bed and the story is almost over. It's both lampshaded and justified, in that they point out that they're leaving because they're scared of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. As this is the point where the original and ALL adaptations of the story gets Darker and Edgier, Gonzo's address to the audience is probably included so the kiddies won't be too scared.
Shown Their Work: As the Yet Another Christmas Carol page points out, this film uses dialogue from the original novel, which is more than most A Christmas Carol adaptations can say. The ghosts are also closer to Dickens' descriptions; the choice not to use established Muppets for the ghosts vastly improves the film.
Of note is the fact that while the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come are Muppets, strictly speaking, they were custom-built Muppets just for this film (although Christmas Present would go on to be used in other projects under different names) and are some of the largest Muppets ever built. Christmas Present is about as tall as Scrooge (usually), and Christmas Yet To Come is a towering eight feet tall. Christmas Past, meanwhile, is more of a CGI-esque effect to cleave closer to the book's strange, ethereal description of the being, and looks more like the Uncanny Valley protagonists from The Dark Crystal.
Stealth Pun: They split the role of Jacob Marley in two so both Statler and Waldorf could play it. So now we have Robert Marley (think about it, mon).
Spared by the Adaptation: It's all but implied that Fezziwig has since passed on since Scrooge worked for him, and several adaptations have even directly stated it. In this version an elder Fezziwig, or Fozziwig as he's referred to here, is shown to be still alive in the present when Scrooge visits him during the ending.
Yet Another Christmas Carol: Behind the scenes, Director Brian Henson was originally opposed about doing ANOTHER Christmas Carol... but after they worked out that Scrooge and the Ghosts would not be played by regular Muppets was when they decided to move forward.