Well, the Muppets have taken their turn at just about every other story known to man, why not Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, too? Unfortunately, talking animal puppets and a largely cold drama don’t really mix, and this strange melange of kiddie flick and Christmas fable never quite comes together.
Case in point: Charles Dickens, who narrates this film himself, is played by — get this — Gonzo. He’s not a writer, he’s a lamplighter who takes a break from his work to tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), the famous miser who (in this version) wants to give Bob Crachit (played by Kermit the Frog) a mere half-hour off for Christmas and is the subject of jokes at local gatherings. People and puppets mix at random here. Unlike in films like The Muppet Movie, where the puppets are on a crusade to reach Hollywood and the humans encompass only characters they encounter on the way, The Muppet Christmas Carol blends both together. It’s a little freaky to see them all sitting together — in British period dress, too — around the Christmas dinner table.
With so many good versions of this story on film, it’s a little difficult to recommend this telling. I even prefer the edition with Scrooge McDuck, because it’s both kid-friendly and adult-worthy. The Muppet Christmas Carol barely keeps kids entertained and the goofy songs and panoply of third-tier muppets that comprise most of the cast (e.g. Miss Piggy doesn’t appear until about 55 minutes into the movie) will have adults running to other editions of the story.