The critic in general (40) and the critic in miniature (5) talk about Mickey’s Christmas story and the Muppet Christmas story
A Christmas Story, Charles Dickens’ beloved short story about a stingy old man and the three ghosts who teach him the spirit of Christmas, is one of my favorite stories ever written
I’ve loved it since I was a kid obsessed with Mickey’s Christmas Story, the 1983 animated short film starring beloved Disney characters Mickey’s Christmas story, which was nominated for an Oscar, has been a boon to the animation division Studios at a time when it was messing around it also became a staple of Christmas television for much of my childhood, popping up every year to tell its familiar story
What surprised me as a kid was that there have been many adaptations of A Christmas Carol, across all kinds of genres, styles, and characters. If there’s a beloved cast of characters, chances are they’ll eventually join A Christmas Carol jumped Mr Magoo played Scrooge Fred Flintstone played Scrooge Yosemite Sam played Scrooge And of course Scrooge played McDuck Scrooge against Bob Cratchit from Mickey Mouse I loved this story so I consumed as many versions as possible
Another adaptation of this story appeared in my childhood and it worked: the 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol, starring Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Statler and Waldorf as Jacob and Robert Marley, and the very human Michael Caine as Scrooge (in one of the acclaimed thespian’s best performances) The Muppet Christmas Carol is a box office hit and a critical disappointment on release For many, it has become a holiday classic
But I was wondering what a child today could make of Mickey’s and Muppet’s Christmas story, and luckily I happen to know Vox’s esteemed critic, Eliza, who is 5 and 5/12 years old (I doubt the Copy Desk lets me put that in the headline I’m sorry, Eliza, for aging badly)
Eliza and I sat down to talk about what makes A Christmas Carol so timeless and what makes an adaptation of the story successful
Emily: If you’ve seen as many adaptations of A Christmas Carol as I have, you notice small, revealing differences between them. Which story elements from the original work do scriptwriters prefer over others? And which story elements do you leave out entirely?
Even a slim book like A Christmas Carol cannot be adapted with hundred percent fidelity, and each screenwriter must decide whether to underline the ghost story, the good Christmas cheer, or the story of an old man’s regrets Dickens’ social conscience or the occasional stab of dry humor There are a number of possible attitudes hidden in this one story, and each is as valid as the last
Mickey’s Christmas story mostly makes Dickens come to Disney instead of sending Disney to Dickens. The special borrows the familiar story elements and sends them through the Disney prism, so that, for example, Goofy plays the ghost of Jacob Marley, while Jiminy plays Cricket Starring Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck, his performance is the special’s greatest asset (Young first played Scrooge McDuck in 1974 in a children’s record version of A Christmas Carol, largely adapted from Mickey’s Christmas story)
The tone of the special fluctuates everywhere, which isn’t supported by the 25-minute runtime.It’s surprising that it comes together at all – Goofy’s slapstick should by no means work with the creepiness of Marley’s mind, but it kind of does – but it’s always hampered by the fact that it’s first a Disney production and then a Dickens adaptation. In the end, it suggests that the moral of this story most of the time is, “Be nice to other people, okay?” That’s a good lesson, but not really the main focus of the novella
The Muppet Christmas story is stronger overall, it doesn’t force the Muppet characters into roles that wouldn’t fit particularly well, so Michael Caine’s work as Scrooge can have the weight it takes (he’s one of the best Scrooges of all Times) But, for example, it allows Fozzie Bear to step in as Fezziwig – or should I say Fozziwig – which is exactly the kind of tiny, comedic cameo that one of the more goofy Muppets can be very funny in
The Christmas story of Muppet strikes a great balance between the book and the Muppets, to the point where Gonzo (as Charles Dickens) recites chunks of text from the book directly to the audience (with Rizzo the advice on hand to make comic books Relief to worry)) It’s not my favorite adaptation of this story, but it’s damn close
Eliza: The Muppet Christmas story looked like Sesame Street, and Mickey’s Christmas story was a cartoon The ghost of yet to come in Mickey’s Christmas story had eyes [in the hood] The Muppet Christmas Carol had no eyes and was gray with the lines Mickey’s Christmas story was brown When Mickey’s Christmas carol ghost threw Scrooge into the fire, he said, “SCROOOOOOOOOGE!” and the other was much quieter
Oh! I wanted to ask about Mickey’s Christmas story. Why did the future ghost throw Donald Duck, who played Scrooge, into the fire?
Emily: [desperately trying not to explain hell to a kid] Well, it was supposed to show that he had been bad. And if he stayed bad he would go and get burned
Emily: But that’s only if you’re bad [disturbing long pause] He was pretty bad Wait Donald Duck doesn’t play Scrooge in Mickey’s Christmas story! He plays Scrooge’s nephew Fred
Emily: Few characters in English literature are as memorable as Ebenezer Scrooge, who (if nothing else) demonstrates Dickens’ ability to name characters with just the right sequence of syllables so that you immediately understand who they are
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have played Scrooge over the years It is impossible to get an accurate count as stage adaptations of A Christmas Carol remain a staple of regional theaters and the like, but the list of “notable performances” on Scrooges Wikipedia page is massive as apparently every actor over 40 with patrician charisma and Stentorian noise has made a leap into the role of Why This year Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead was playing Scrooge from the stage of London’s Old Vic
Scrooge has become such an immortal character because he somehow talks to our worst and best selves. There are days when we want to say “humbug” to the world and days when we’re so full of good feelings that We might burst We want to believe that it’s not too late to change our behavior, and Christmas often makes people feel good
Emily: Eliza! A conscious comparison of two different works! That is the backbone of many critical analyzes!
Eliza: The Grinch didn’t like Christmas.But what’s different about the two films is that the Grinch stole Christmas and Scrooge doesn’t
Emily: By and large, A Christmas Carol fits in with a longstanding tradition of telling ghost stories during the holiday season.In fact, there are spooky Christmas stories that date back to the Middle Ages and were ghosts that showed up at such a festive season one of the few Christmas traditions that persisted in Dickens’ time
In 1863, when Dickens published A Christmas Carol, Christmas was often treated as another day when few people had days off – so Bob Cratchit asks if he can have the day off, so a Christmas story is an attempt to treat Christmas as important holiday both at the plot level (characters are taught to celebrate Christmas every day of the year) and meta-textual level (a Christmas ghost story would have seemed appropriately festive to Dickens readers)
But forget all the intoxicating nonsense I love ghosts What about you, Eliza? Who were your favorite Christmas ghosts?
Eliza: The spirit of the Christmas present in Mickey’s Christmas story. He opens the roof of a house and the person in the house says “EEEEEK!”
Emily: I like it when he walks right next to the window and his eye is really big
Eliza: And I like Jacob and Robert Marley from Muppet Christmas Carol! My favorite song is “Marley and Marley”
Emily: Great song A real blast Which of the ghosts would you want to be?
Eliza: I want to be the spirit of the Christmas past. Too bad I couldn’t really fly into the past! I would go back in time for every Christmas and get all the [Lego] advent calendars we made. We made three and four when we finished this one. I get all the other boxes that were thrown away and bring them to the present Home
Eliza: Me too! It’s a shame that not all people in the world can be the ghosts. If everyone wanted to, they could be the ghosts, but if one or two or maybe 100 didn’t want to, they just couldn’t be [pause] I wish I could just walk through the screen so we could have a personal chat and interview
Emily: Well, I met your mom and dad, and I met you when you were a baby
Eliza: Yes, but you didn’t meet my grandpa and grandma! And you are lucky! I have two grandpas and grandmas
[Eliza’s younger sister Nora, the critic of tiny who is 2 and 3/4, enters the room]
Eliza: A leaf? Oh, a feather! Mickey and Donald Duck paint with a pen. You want to know why they are doing this?
Emily: Well they just write with them You don’t paint People would take pens and make the tips really sharp Then they dipped them in little ink pots and wrote things down But now we have pens and these are a lot easier to use operate
Eliza: My drawing desk has a little circle that you can put a bottle of ink in, and then you can stick a pen in. It’s George’s desk. He lived in our house before we did
Emily: A Christmas Story is one of the most successful books ever written. Almost every living person knows a version of that story, and there are many adaptations that have nothing to do with Christmas at all (see also: McConaughey, Matthew, in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) Dickens’ story is beautifully structured, suitably festive, and just the right amount of creepiness, so it’s no wonder so many filmmakers have tried to fit it in when many have failed
Emily: I like the way it’s about looking at your life and seeing the things that should and could be better and using Christmas to make your life better and be a better person But I also like the ghosts I wish I could meet the ghosts
Emily: I’m going to ask you the question I always ask: Who are you most like?
Emily: I think you are most like the little bunny who wears the turkey in The Muppet Christmas Carol because you are nice and like to help. Who is your mother most like?
Emily: I think I’m most like one of the Cratchits because I have to work for a boss who doesn’t appreciate me and all the ink is frozen –
Emily: Wow Eliza with the hot takes I hope he’s visited by three ghosts this Christmas who convince him to change his behavior
In April, Vox launched an opportunity for readers to support our work with financial contributions – and the response blew us away.This year, the support of our founding staff has helped us develop projects that millions have relied on for around a year Understanding Chaos and Protecting Their Families The support of our readers helps us to rely less on advertising and keep our resource-intensive work free for all who need it. We want by the end of year 2Add 020 Founding Members to Our Support Base Help us achieve our goal by contributing to Vox today, starting as low as $ 3
“I asked him,” How is everything going? How can we help? “And I accidentally told him I loved him”
A Christmas story
Weltnachrichten – GB – A Christmas story explained by a 5-year-old