The Muppet Christmas Carol Is the Best Dickens Adaptation


The Big Picture

  • The Muppet Christmas Carol is the greatest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, combining somber moments with fun and uplifting elements.
  • The stellar cast, including Michael Caine as Scrooge, brings depth and emotion to the beloved characters.
  • The catchy tunes, Muppety goodness, and close adherence to the original story make The Muppet Christmas Carol a must-watch holiday film.

‘Tis the season to watch all of our favorite holiday movies, including The Muppet Christmas Carol! Christmas is quickly approaching, which means our annual viewing of every holiday classic from the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials to A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, and It’s A Wonderful Life is upon us. Of course, Christmastime would not be complete without a reading or viewing of Charles Dickens‘ famous 1843 tale, A Christmas Carol. With plenty of different Christmas Carol adaptations to choose from, why not go with the greatest adaptation to date? That’s right, if you’re going to spend a night with Ebenezer Scrooge and his Ghosts this holiday season, then you should make the time to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. Trust us, it’s the best!

Sure, the 2009 Robert Zemeckis/Jim Carrey animated feature is a bit underrated, and Scrooged with Bill Murray is a phenomenal modernist play on the iconic tale, but nobody does hilarious and family-friendly adaptations quite like the Muppets. Interestingly enough, The Muppet Christmas Carol stays true to the somber and reflective moments of the original Dickens classic, all while remaining fun, uplifting, and inspirational. As the first Muppets motion picture made after the death of Jim Henson, The Muppet Christmas Carol is something of a holiday masterpiece, one that’s sadly been overlooked, possibly due to the polyfoam and fleece nature of the Muppets involved…

The Muppet Christmas Carol was directed by Henson’s son Brian Henson and written by longtime Muppets writer Jerry Juhl. Years before the Muppets would be purchased by the Walt Disney Company, The Muppet Christmas Carol was also the first Muppets production produced by the House of Mouse. While some adaptations take plenty of creative liberties, including the 1938 classic’s removal of the storyline involving Belle (a detail pretty crucial to understanding Scrooge, we might add), The Muppet Christmas Carol stays fairly true to the original novella, especially if you can get past the Muppets involved.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppets present their own touching rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic tale.

Release Date
December 10, 1992


85 minutes

Comedy , Documentary , Family , Fantasy , Musical

‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ Cast Is Stellar

Probably the strongest thing that The Muppet Christmas Carol has going for it is its stellar cast. Of course, the infamous Muppet performers involved, including Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Steve Whitmire, and the beloved Frank Oz, are masters of their craft as always. Their amazing talents lend themselves nicely to characters like Kermit the Frog, The Great Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Statler and Waldorf (who play twin Marley brothers, which is both on-point and hysterical), and they are at their absolute best here. Everything runs so smoothly on screen that you’d almost think these Muppets moved all on their own.

But, any Christmas Carol adaptation is only as good as its Ebenezer Scrooge, so it’s no doubt that The Muppet Christmas Carol picked better than most. That’s right, Sir Michael Caine plays Scrooge here, and not only is his transformation from a grumpy old grouch into a warm, kindhearted lover of Christmas completely believable, but it’s also incredibly moving. As Scrooge takes a good look at his life, his icy heart begins to melt, and despite being surrounded by Muppets, Caine brings his A-game as he always does. You couldn’t have picked a better Scrooge for The Muppet Christmas Carol than he.

The Catchy Tunes Bring True Joy

Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, and the gang eat dinner during The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Image via Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Scrooge’s journey in The Muppet Christmas Carol plays out just like any other Christmas Carol (well, except with Muppets, naturally), but don’t let that fool you — there’s still plenty of fun to be had along the way. From the moment we first see the old miser, there’s a cold wind that briskly turns into a gloomy (but very catchy) tune. Sung by The Muppet Cast, “Scrooge” opens us up to the fantastical world of nineteenth-century London, setting the stage for the musical we’ve wandered into. That’s right, like most Muppets productions, The Muppet Christmas Carol is a musical, but don’t worry, it only adds depth and delight to the tale (and doesn’t feel too distracting).

The Marley brothers (Statler and Waldorf) also sing to Scrooge in “Marley and Marley,” which condemns the nasty old man to his wicked fate. That is unless he does something about it. But not every song is such a downer — some of them are pretty magical. “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas,” Bob Cratchit’s (Kermit the Frog) song, is not only downright delightful, but it’ll make you wish that Christmas were tomorrow morning. By the end, even Scrooge himself is singing the merry tune of “Thankful Heart,” which is easy to get stuck in your head, as he proclaims his Christmas cheer loudly for all to hear.

‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ Is (Mostly) True to the Original

Gonzo and Rizzo in The Muppet Christmas Carol
Image via Disney

Of course, what makes The Muppet Christmas Carol work at all is that it’s such a close adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It gets just about everything right, from Scrooge’s harsh treatment of Bob Cratchit to his poor life choices. The few small details that are changed, such as there being two Marley brothers rather than one, hardly make a difference at all. Truthfully, there isn’t anything we could say here about Dickens’ original Christmas tale that hasn’t already been said, but The Muppet Christmas Carol captures the very heart of the redemptive story in all the ways you could hope for.


‘The Muppets Christmas Carol’ Review: An Essential, Fuzzy Take on Dickens’ Christmas Classic

30 years after its release, we look back at a brilliant Dickens adaptation that united Michael Caine and the Muppets.

As mentioned before, the fact that The Muppet Christmas Carol keeps Belle in the picture, reminding Scrooge of the love that he lost, is essential to show just how greedy the moneylender has become. Though Scrooge can’t change his past, he can help to ensure Tiny Tim’s future, and, as in all other adaptations, he develops a kind fondness for the boy as the Ghosts reveal a future without Tim. Speaking of, the Three Ghosts of Christmas are all marvelous, each capturing the essence of their original novella counterparts. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a favorite, of course, with an infectious charm that will make you wish Christmas were even sooner.

The Muppety Goodness Is Peppered Throughout

Michael Caine as Scrooge talking to The Ghost of Christmas Present in The Muppets Christmas Carol
Image via Disney

While not everyone may want Muppets in their Christmas Carol, rest assured that they only make the tale more magical. No doubt, there are other excellent adaptations that take a darker, more serious approach, such as the 2019 FX version that starred Guy Pearce, which was quite a bit darker than your average version, but The Muppet Christmas Carol still manages to be a gratifying experience that you must see to believe. Fozzy Bear as “Fozzywig,” Scrooge’s old employer, is hysterical, and Kermit is the perfect Bob Cratchit. Then there’s the ever-patriotic Sam the Eagle, who has one of the funniest bits in the movie as he’s forced to remember that the film takes place in Britain and not his American homeland.

There are other moments of Muppety goodness peppered in throughout though, including Gonzo’s role as the narrator “Charles Dickens,” accompanied by Rizzo the Rat, who continuously falls down, hits his head, and asks stupid questions. Their banter between scenes (and sometimes during intense dramatic moments) is both entertaining for adults and laugh-out-loud funny for kids. Shockingly, the Three Ghosts of Christmas themselves were all original Muppet creations for this production, which gave them the freedom to put their own creative spin on this everlasting classic.

While there are other live-action and animated feature films or television productions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to choose from (both of the dramatic and musical varieties), there is not another adaptation quite like The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s upbeat and funny, tragic and contemplative, and features plenty of Muppet flare to set it apart. If you can only choose one version of this traditional tale to set your family in front of for an evening during this holiday season, then make it The Muppet Christmas Carol. Kermit and the gang won’t steer you wrong!

The Muppet Christmas Carol is available to stream on Disney+ in the U.S.

Watch on Disney+


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