In 1992, the creators of the Muppets recruited the greatest actor alive (Sir Michael Caine) to recreate the classic Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol.” It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies for three reasons:
1. It has the Muppets.
2. It has Michael Caine.
3. For some reason, it became a yearly tradition for my brothers, sister, and me to watch it at least once (while stuffing our faces with our Mom’s cooking) during the holiday season and ripping it to shreds with the most inappropriate jokes imaginable. If you’ve never seen it, let me be your guide. Over the next few weeks I’ll be unveiling a three-part series detailing the classic film. Onto part one:
The story begins with prose directly from Dickens out of the mouths’ of our narrators, Gonzo and Rizzo. Gonzo is subbing for Charles Dickens himself while Rizzo is subbing for Charles Dickens’ gay pet rat. We then follow Scrooge on his lonely walk to work as several Muppets loudly sing a number about what a dick this guy is. Somehow, he doesn’t hear a word of what they’re saying and keeps walking, oblivious. I don’t know about you, but if a Swedish chef, a bunny, three penguins, some vegetables, and a group of pigs in bonnets sang to me about what an assface I was, I would at least pause.
Scrooge shows up to work with his trusty assistant, Bob Cratchit, played here by Kermit. They’re also joined by several rats wearing dress shirts and vests. Using Bob as their spokesman, the rats beg Scrooge for more coal. But shouldn’t they, as dirty rats, just be thankful that Scrooge is paying them at all? First off, having eight rats running around your office all day is a heinous and flagrant health code violation. Jacob Marley probably died from the Plague. Secondly, if they’ve matured enough to wear shirts, why not go for the gold and throw some pants on? It would probably cut down on all the rat shit. If you ask me, Scrooge is a nice guy just for not making them wear tiny diapers.
Scrooge is then visited by his a couple of guys looking for a handout, here played by Bunson and Beaker. If you’re unfamiliar with these characters, Bunson looks like Ziggy if he caught pneumonia, and Beaker resembles what I imagine a turkey dick and balls would look like. After that it’s a visit from Scrooge’s human nephew. It’s jarring to see another non-Caine human show up to the proceedings. During their whole exchange, I kept waiting for Scrooge to break into tears and ask, “Why do you think we’ve been trapped in this alternate dimension where we’re two of like, fifteen humans that live in London? What has happened? Yesterday, I went to the deli to get some roast beef and ended up having an elephant sing me a song about how much he loves making sandwiches. What in the fuck is going on?”
After dispatching his nephew, a caroler played by Bean Bunny interrupts Scrooge. This causes Scrooge to wind up like El Duque and chuck a Christmas wreath at him in my favorite shot of the movie. It’s then onto Cratchit’s famous haggling with Scrooge over time off. It’s hard to believe that as Scrooge’s only legal employee, Bob wouldn’t have negotiated some type of leave into his deal. I know the rats work there also, but you can’t tell me Scrooge wasn’t paying them under the table. No way they were legal.
Next time: part two, in which the guy who played Alfred is haunted by the ghosts of John Madden and Pat Summerall.