To me, cockney Michael Caine became the quintessential Scrooge 30 years ago when he starred in the best-ever version of Charles Dickens’ festive story. Remastered and back in cinemas to mark the anniversary, this masterpiece is this year’s best Christmas release.
Caine only agreed to take the part if he could play it completely straight and his surprising turn as the haunted miser feels heartfelt.
The rest of the casting isn’t bad, either. Kermit the Frog delivers his greatest-ever performance as Bob Cratchit, the gentle dad who fears his froggy son Tiny Tim (great work from his nephew Robin) is about to croak.
Muppet master Brian Henson actually improves the story, undercutting the more saccharine moments with sharp humour, talking vegetables and exuberant song and dance routines.
Until I saw this film, I hadn’t realised that Dickens was one Marley short. Here, Statler and Waldorf rattle their chains as the Marley brothers while delivering one of songsmith Paul Williams’s many earworms.
It Feels Like Christmas, a big number for the Ghost Of Christmas Present (a giant, jolly Brian Blessed of a muppet) should be playing in every card shop in the country.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol, Cert U, in cinemas now