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Christmastime: A Christmas Carol


Seems like there are endless cinema variations on Charles Dickens’ most famous Christmas story.   Mickey did it, the Muppets did it, Barbie did it, and those are just the heavyweights.  Instead of reviewing each and every one (I admit, I haven’t seen the Barbie one) I’d share with you a couple of my favorites.   

First, the Patrick Stewart version.  It’s a great shame (and strange irony) that an actor trained in Shakespeare has only been able to make a name for himself across the pond in comic book and sci fi.   Stewart shows off impressive range here, and is comfortable enough with the old language to stick much closer to Dickens’ intent than most versions.    This is aided by meticulous attention to period detail, and the result is a Carol that feels much more growup than any other version I’ve seen.    The special effects are cheesy — giving away that this was made for cable — and the Ghost of Christmas Future looks like an oversized Jawa.   But Stewart’s performance and a great supporting cast lift this one above most of the others.   


On the other hand, there’s Scrooged.   If Patrick Stewart takes the story more seriously than most, Bill Murray has more fun with it than anybody.   Updating the story to the gloriously yuppy 80’s, Murray is a TV exec who sees Christmas as the Ultimate Marketing Holiday.   Bobcat Goldthwaite is his Bob Cratchett, and chases him around the office with a shotgun.   Whatever happened to that guy, anyway?  The Ghost of Christmas Past is the dirtiest taxi driver you’ve ever seen, and Christmas Present is cheerfully violent.   Every comedic decision here turns to gold, and the energy never wanes -always maintained by the cheerfully sarcastic Murray.     

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