There has been many different adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Some of them are really well done, and others just seem to barely try.
In 2009, Robert Zemeckis tried his hand at a full length animated version of the classic. However, when it came to casting, many people turned up their nose when they heard Jim Carrey would step into the shoes of the rotten old man Ebenezer Scrooge. When I found out myself, I too was a bit concerned. After all, A Christmas Carol is a tale I hold near and dear, so I wanted it to come out right.
Much to my surprise, Carrey does a great job as the motion capture Scrooge. He really captures the essence of the character and does so by playing him completely straight. He grumbles his voice but not so it seems comedic; in fact it actually adds to that of Scrooge’s personality, or lack thereof.
Carrey also plays all three ghosts as well. I blame the animators more for this than Carrey, but the Ghost of Christmas Past is a little bizarre. The specter is nothing more than a human candle, with his head as the flame. Carrey’s face insertion has the actor all bug eyed; it’s just weird. It’s a bit hard to swallow.
However, as the Ghost of the Present, Carrey really gets into it. His hearty laugh and positive nature comes through completely, and his facial features shine through in a good way. The cherry attitude displayed is a strong feature and I give props to the actor for really sinking his teeth into it.
Yet to Come is pretty much standard; nothing about the actor sticks out. However, during this “visit” Ebenezer is shrunken down for a time, adding nothing to the film. The same can be said for a portion of the movie where Scrooge flies around London on a thimble from Ghost of Christmas Past; completely unnecessary.
The other main actors who come into play do well with their roles. Colin Firth is a bucket of energy as Scrooge’s nephew, and Bob Hoskins (RIP) makes for an entertaining Fezziwig. Gary Oldman steps into the film too as Bob Cratchit, and does a fine job. However, I don’t know why the animators decided to make Cratchit so short; it could be to show that he is malnourished due to poverty. However, that’s just a random way of thinking. His tiny stature is an odd choice, but I guess that’s a minor thing really.
A major thing I have to point out is how dark the film gets, specifically tone. While I do love The Muppet Christmas Carol, it is a much lighter take on Dickens’ tale. The infusion of comedic bits is something I do not mind whatsoever, but let’s be honest; Christmas Carol stuff is not always kiddie fare. The 2009 version doesn’t mess around; there are some scary moments, mainly for kids. However, I do applaud the writers for keeping elements intact; while some scenes are unnecessary, at least they didn’t decide to clear out the frightful stuff.
While it’s not perfect, Disney’s A Christmas Carol is not a total failure. Jim Carrey really does give his all here and it shows, but his Ghost of Christmas Present is the clear winner. The animation is very well done and I don’t mind the motion capture. Some portions are unnecessary but ultimately there is a lot more good here than bad. It’s not my favorite retelling, but it’s certainly one I won’t shy away from.
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.