Why ‘A Muppets Christmas Carol’ is the Greatest Christmas Film Ever.

I know, I know… I hear you…

Yes you, the person currently screaming into the heavens like the clichéd end of a terrible eighties action flick after having witnessed your partner die in your arms. You’ve read the headline of this article as you sit there in a dirt and blood stained white tank top, about to leave the house barefooted, attending one of the five Christmas parties you have this week, where you plan to spout off that ever so popular quote-turned catchphrase ‘Yippee-Ki-Yay-Motherf**ker!’. You’re now about to either post a tirade of abhorrence and anguish on the comment board below or you’re currently dialing all of your like minded fanatics as you plan to abduct me, take me to the nearest tall building, throw me off and watch me fall to my demise in awesome slow motion.

Yes, I’m addressing all you die-hard Die Hard fans, declaring in unison that ‘Die Hard is the greatest Christmas film ever’! Instantly followed by the overly aggressive and ready prepared response that, ‘Yes, it is a Christmas film!!’

However, I implore you not to reach for that sub-machine gun that’s duct taped to your back just yet. I like Die Hard, hell, I love Die Hard, I always have and it’s one of, if not THE greatest action movie of all time. Its fantastic humour; acting, characters and interesting plot mechanics are matched only by the sheer heart pounding action and stunts on display. However when it comes to the age-old question of the greatest Christmas movie ever, I’m not so sure. Yes, the film is set during holiday festival but for me a true Christmas film encompasses the meanings, dare I say it, ‘spirit’ of the season and uses it as an integral part of its story and plot. You could easily take Die Hard, set it during Halloween and it wouldn’t really affect the film all that much. Sure it would lose some charm and gags but essentially it would be the same movie. I wouldn’t call In Bruges or Iron Man 3 ‘Christmas movies’ yet they are both set during the holidays.

Secondly and arguably the most essential point, the perfect Christmas film in my humble opinion, needs to be a film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. I can’t gather around with my parents, my niece (4) and nephew (8) and watch Die Hard on Christmas Eve. Well, I suppose I could but child services would be there to greet me as the end credits rolled. It should be a film that is constantly putting a smile your face. Granted I do smile from time to time as John McClane shoots out his witty one liners after finishing off countless members of Alan Rickman’s entourage but mainly I’m going ‘f*ck yea!’ or ‘Oh Sh*t!’

Not to fret, I can also hear your cries, yes you, the weepy eyed, quivering lipped fans of Frank Capra’s solid yet overrated (yes, you heard me correctly) 1946 film, It’s A Wonderful Life. However, I only had enough words in this piece to address one set of hardcore fans and I thought the former would be more inclined to physically harm me.

So you may think, why Brian Henson’s adaptation of one of Charles Dickens’ most beloved novels. Well it’s right there in the title, its Dickens’ moving and memorable tale of the miserable, heartless and mean spirited Ebenezer Scrooge. A man forced to confront the very meaning of his own existence. The opportunities he squandered in his youth, the huge shadow of wretchedness and anguish he casts over his current colleagues, subordinates and remaining family and the tragic, bitter fate that awaits him if he doesn’t change the course he is on. He is faced with the decisive question of whether he chooses a path that leads to loneliness and death or begin to walk the road to his redemption. It’s all that entire fantastic, dramatic stuff but with flipping Muppets!

I am strongly under the opinion that any film, since the dawn of cinema, can be vastly improved with the simple inclusion of Jim Henson’s Muppets. The Shawshank Redemption remains the number one film one the IMDB top 250 films of all time and for good reason. However, you add a spoonful of Kermit the Frog, a dose of Miss Piggy and a side helping of Beaker to Darabont’s masterpiece and you my friend have a film that will literally be sh*tting Oscars and earning enough money to make even Donald Trump blush. Yes, obviously I am joking but in many ways I’m also not and I’m deadly serious. Adding Muppets to the proceedings lightens the darker moments of Dickens work of art but somehow doesn’t lessen the thematic impact. It adds some colour and charm to his work and transforms the piece into more of an enjoyable family attraction. The film is bursting at the seams with charm, wit and heart. If you don’t leave this film humming the tunes, thinking better of yourself, other human beings and just having a general sense of warm and happiness inside yourself then you should go away and take a good long look at yourself.

It’s one of the rare films on my DVD shelf in which the voice in the back of my head which is shouting, ‘this is ridiculous, this is so cheesy, it’s such a kid’s film, what are you doing!? Come on, you should be out on the town getting hammered’ is drowned out by my inner child who is mumbling along with ‘It Feels Like Christmas’. The famous story is masterfully narrated this time by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat who take you through both the grimy and striking streets of 19th century London introducing us to wonderful new characters. Believe me when I tell you, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Michael Caine brilliantly attempting to sing along with cartoon characters made out of polyfoam and antron fleece being operated by hands stuck up their torso. It may surprise you but this film is actually among Michael Caine’s finest work. Many critics have even held Caine’s incarnation of Scrooge as one of the most impressive to date, ranking above Reginald Owen (1938), George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart (2001).

So, while there have been countless other Christmas cinematic offerings such as Home Alone, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street and so on and so forth but A Muppets Christmas Carol continues to be a film I have re-watched every year, probably since the year of my birth, which coincidentally is the same year it was released in theatres. It’s timeless quality continues to stagger me, I’ve been watching this film since I was a nipper and my nephew (now 8) has also been sitting down to it for many years as well. With films such as Deck The Halls and Nativity 3: Dude Where’s my Donkey? (yep, seriously), the fact this film is so popular with two different generations and is a film we can both watch without one of us getting bored, getting up and returning to the fridge to see what leftovers there are from Christmas dinner is no mean feat. So while A Muppets Christmas Carol is certainly NOT a great film it is undoubtedly a great Christmas movie, if not the greatest.

If you’ve never seen this film, if you have strong objections to my opinion and need to be convinced or you simply want to be reminded of its pure awesomeness and unrelenting ability to put a smile on your face, regardless of you mood, then watch one my favourite parts of the film below.

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