by Rick Grant
A Rated PG 96 min
The narration and dialogue in this Disney animated telling of Charles Dickens’ classic is faithful to the original text, while simultaneously taking creative liberty with the special effects. The result is a mind blowing animated masterpiece that re-energizes the original story with amazingly real CGI characters, fantastic FX, and in-your-face 3D.
Jim Carrey’s comedic body language is cleverly animated into the character of the miserly old coot, Ebenezer Scrooge, who made making money as his only reason for being. He was determined to rise above his poor childhood at the expense of his emotional well-being. In the end, he was a miserable, lonely old man.
The timeless story comes at an opportune time as Americans struggle to crawl out of the Great Recession. There are many Scrooges on Wall Street–heads of major corporations who accumulate vast wealth while their companies fail. Thus, this well written parable makes sense to a whole new generation of young people.
Scrooge has one employee, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) who slaves away making a meager wage in a freezing cold office. (Scrooge is too cheap to turn on the heat). But, Cratchit is glad to have a job. Many people in his town are working in the poor house or are in debtors prison. One day, Cratchit has the temerity to ask him for one day off on Christmas day. Scrooge balks, but begrudgingly relents and gives the day off. “But be here early the next morning,” Scrooge says to Cratchit.
There is no joy in Scrooge’s life. He refuses to give money to the poor. He goes home and eats cold porridge because he’s too cheap to buy real food. He sits in a cold dark house counting his money. Yes, things change drastically when Scrooge is visited by ghosts of his past, present, and future.
The far-out spirits take Scrooge on a magical mystery tour of his life and what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. This is where the Disney animators used their creative energy by staging the spectacular special effects as the spirits whisk Scrooge around like a rag doll in tow.
With the Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge sees his past as a young man, who fell in love and married a nice young woman. But he drove her away with his obsession with making money. Scrooge is forced to face his painful decisions that led him down the wrong path to old age and unhappiness.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is a jolly big guy who laughs at Scrooge and shows him what his is missing. Still, Scrooge mutters humbug under his breath at people having such a great time wasting their money on Christmas.
In this wild Disney verison of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a menacing dark shadow who shakes Scrooge to the core by showing him his bleak future. This spirit really gives Scrooge the business and scares him straight.
Disney has taken this classic tale and rejuvenated it with an awesome visual trip into the future of animation. The CGI realism is astonishing right down to the hair on present spirit’s chest. And in 3D, it snows in the audience.
Of course, Jim Carrey has added his spin on the character of Scrooge, making him bent over and mean. When Carrey’s Scrooge returns home from his mind altering travels with the spirits, he does a little jig, which is classic Jim Carrey’s physical comedy.
Even if one has seen A Christmas Carol many times before, one hasn’t experienced it like this. Disney’s animators forged a new higher standard in CGI animation with this film. It could be scary to children 5 or under, but will be an instant classic for generations to come.
A Christmas Carol
by Rick Grant