Muppet Christmas Carol has always been my favorite Christmas movie for as long as I can remember. Ask my family. They will confirm that every year I begin insisting that we watch it around Thanksgiving, and when we finally do watch it, I sing along, recite all the good one-liners (most of which belong to Rizzo and Gonzo), and am generally as happy as a five-year-old gearing up for the annual visit to Santa at the local mall. I spend the entire Christmas season singing my favorite songs from the movie. I even recall shedding a tear or two when our VCR ate our VHS copy, making it so I couldn’t watch it in the pre-Christmas season…last year.
Now, I recognize that Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets) doesn’t and shouldn’t get all the credit for the film, because, of course, it is based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens. And it is a beautiful story, one of personal transformation, one of learning the spirit of Christmas (love, generosity, community, etc.). But it is specifically this version, with those beloved musical puppets, that I love the most. I think there are various reasons behind this love.
Muppet Christmas Carol has a sense of humor which is purely Muppets. As I mentioned before, I particularly love the exchanges between and one-liners of Rizzo and Gonzo. In the movie, Gonzo plays the role of Charles Dickens, acting as a narrator of sorts for the film. At times he gets really arrogant about it all, and one time in particular, Rizzo (who acts as a sort of sidekick for “Dickens”) responds to his bragging about his omniscience with “Hoity toity, Mr. God-like smarty-pants.” Another moment I love is when the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come (an eerie, completely silent character that looks like the personification of Death) arrives, Rizzo and Gonzo run away, saying they’ll be back for the finale. Only the Muppets, right?
I also love the music. One song sung by Kermit (Bob Cratchit) and Scrooge’s other employees on Christmas Eve says “after all there’s only one more sleep ’till Christmas,” which I always unashamedly prepare myself for ahead of time, figuring out how many days really are left until Christmas, so I can sing along and change the words appropriately. That song (and its reprise, an a capella duet between Kermit and his son, Tiny Tim, walking cheerfully down the street with Tiny Tim perched on his father’s shoulder) has a fantastic line that is one of my favorite parts of the song: “’Tis the season to b e jolly and joyous; with a burst of pleasure we feel it arrive. It’s the season when the saints can employ us, to spread the news about peace and to keep love alive.” My other favorite is the song of the Ghost of Christmas Present (a giant Muppet reminiscent of Hagrid from Harry Potter, both in look and personality), with lines like “it is the summer of the soul in December; yes, when you do your best for love, it feels like Christmas.” There are plenty of other great songs, but I don’t want to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet.
What is probably most important for me about Muppet Christmas Carol, though, is the associations I have with the Muppets. For me, the Muppets are a reminder of love. I have many fond memories from my life watching the Muppets with family and friends. My favorite family Christmas tradition is the ongoing struggle between my brother and me starting around Thanksgiving about whether we should watch The Santa Clause, his Christmas movie of choice, or Muppet Christmas Carol, mine (and I’m only half joking about that being my favorite Christmas tradition). Of course, we always watch each at least once in the end, and enjoy our family time spent watching them. I also simply have fond memories of watching Muppets movies with my family (particularly Muppet Christmas Carol). I also have lots of good bonding memories with friends over the Muppets. For some reason or another, the Muppets bring people together. That has certainly been my experience, and for these positive associations and more, I absolutely love Muppet Christmas Carol.
I could easily, on principle, be a Scrooge the whole Christmas season (for the consumerism and so forth), but Muppet Christmas Carol always brings me back to a cheerful spirit and reminds me of what matters more – “It is the season of the heart, a special time of caring, the ways of love made clear. It is the season of the spirit, the message if we hear it, is make it last all year.”