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Western Animation / A Christmas Carol (2009)

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A Christmas Carol is a 2009 Disney film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novella of the same name. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and made using Motion Capture, it stars Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge and all three of the Christmas spirits.


This film provides examples of:

  • Actionized Adaptation: The film adds an action scene of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come chasing Scrooge with Jacob Marley's funeral wagon and shrinking him to the size of a rat, none of which was in the book. Scrooge is also physically flung around a lot by the ghosts and the effects of their visits, while in the book he's just spirited to places.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adapted Out:
    • The ghostly hearse on the staircase is in the junior novelization, trailer, and licensed game, but not the movie itself. The movie also removes Belle with her husband and children, though it was filmed and can be seen on the DVD bonus features.
    • The junior novelization removes Mrs. Dilber selling Scrooge's items after his death, transitioning from the hearse chase to the scene with Scrooge's body.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In canon, Scrooge was said to be honest even before the ghosts changed him. In this film, he steals the gold coins that were covering the late Jacob Marley's eyes.
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    • Unlike other incarnations, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come actively torments Scrooge in ways such as bursting out to knock him over, chasing him from atop a stagecoach pulled by stampeding horses, and shrinking him down to an extremely small size.
  • All There in the Manual: Tie-in media clarifies that the hearse that chases Scrooge in the future is Marley's funeral hearse.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses "Present" by JUJU as its theme song.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Jacob Marley with Scrooge. Poor guy was so frustrated he dislocated his own jaw during one of his ghostly wailing fits.
    • The Ghost of Christmas Present may be a jolly figure, but do not bring up what the current bureaucracy of the Church of Christ is doing in Christ's name, like closing places once a week when the poor are so in need of help. He does not take such mentions well and considers them not of his church.
  • Body Horror: Marley is shown to be in a state of decay even as a spirit. At one point, during one of his ghostly wailing fits, his cheeks split open, and he dislocates his own jaw, forcing him to manually move it to talk.
  • Bowdlerize: The junior novelization changes Fred's wife guessing "an ass" in Yes and No to "a dog," which still gets the same response.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Bob Cratchit narrates the ending directly to the camera.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: As Scrooge passes the carolers on Christmas Day, he pretends to be his normal miserable self, cowing the carolers into mumbling the chorus quietly as he passes. He then belts out the chorus with gusto, as they resurge happily. He then gives them an extremely extravagant tip before gleefully continuing on his way.
  • Coins for the Dead: Scrooge's Establishing Character Moment comes when he takes the pennies that had been placed on his recently deceased partner's eyes, saying "tuppence is tuppence".
  • Creepy Child: Ignorance and Want. This adaptation makes them creepier than usual by adding a sequence where they morph into adults: a thug and a prostitute, respectively. They also get Present's line about prisons and workhouses.
  • Due to the Dead: The film begins with Jacob Marley's death and his corpse being prepared for burial with two pennies covering his eyes to keep them closed. Scrooge stole them from the body.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Mrs Dilber and Old Joe are startled by a rat and chase it and Scrooge away.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Scrooge pockets the coins off the dead Marley's eyes.
  • Ghost in the Machine: Scrooge and the three spirits are depicted this way, and all are played by Jim Carrey.
  • The Hyena: The Ghost of Christmas Present, continuing to laugh even as he turns into a skeleton and then crumbles to dust.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Scrooge is shrunk in the Future scene for a while.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: As usual for Zemeckis' motion capture movies, the main characters all resemble their actors.
  • Jump Scare: The movie practically relies on these. An example is the scene where Scrooge sees Marley's face on the knocker, he reaches out to touch it...and Marley's eyes snap open and some of his teeth fly out!
  • Large Ham:
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Scrooge robs the late Jacob Marley out of two coins and the Ghost of Christmas Future shows a future where a deceased Scrooge is robbed out of curtains and the clothes his corpse would be buried with.
  • Living Shadow: The Ghost of Christmas Future is Scrooge's shadow.
  • Mind Screwdriver: The tie-in novel and licensed game clarify that the hearse chasing Scrooge in the future is the same one that took Marley to his resting place and chased Scrooge on the stairs in his house.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • At one point, Marley yells so powerfully that he dislocates his jaw, then says the next line by moving his lower jaw with his hand (borders between disturbing and funny) before attempting to put it back and in the process folding his face up tightly to the point where he cannot speak (just plain funny).
    • One minute, Scrooge is being chased by demonic shadowy horses, the next he's crawling through a sewer pipe with a chipmunk voice. And then, back to the horses.
  • Motion Capture: This technique was how the movie was made.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers made it look like a goofy, kiddy version of the story. The actual movie, however, was surprisingly faithful and kept most of the original's story intact, including the dark bits.
  • The Oner:
    • The five-minute title scene, starting with one conversation with Scrooge, flying all around London and then back down to the other side of the city, finishing with him approaching his house.
    • The entire "Ghost of Christmas Past" scene simply fades from time period to time period without any cuts.
  • Playing Gertrude: Scrooge's nephew Fred is played by Colin Firth, who is actually older than Jim Carrey. The use of motion capture makes this less obvious than it might have been in a fully live-action movie.
  • Robbing the Dead: In his Establishing Character Moment, Scrooge takes the two coins off of Marley's eyes. Like in the book, Scrooge is shown as a future victim of this by the Ghost of Christmas Future.
  • Sand In My Eyes: When Scrooge gets emotional at the sight of his boyhood home, he dismisses the tear on his cheek as "Nothing. Something in my eye."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sssssnake Talk: The Ghossssst of Chrisssstmasss Passsst - and not just the ssssibilants, but all the vowels. Considering how the Ghost was represented, its speech could be representative of the wisp of a candle flame...slowly guttering out.
  • Stealth Pun: Many of the songs played in the background are Christmas carols, making this adaptation the literal version.
  • Truer to the Text: Aside from the shrunken Scrooge chase scene, much of the movie is extremely faithful to the book, including a sequence almost always left out of adaptations where Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Present about the bad things the Church does in God's name.

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