(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Disney's A Christmas Carol. The movie's theme song, "God Bless Us Everyone" by Andrea Bocelli, plays throughout)
Doug (vo): By popular demand, A Christmas Carol. Yeah, kind of a bonehead move to forget this one, wasn't it? Especially seeing how it's, oh, I don't know, Christmas-related and it's December. But to be fair, I kind of forget this one is Disney. I mean, when I think of Disney Christmas Carol, I think of the Mickey Mouse and Scrooge McDuck. This, I associate more with Robert Zemeckis and his motion capture. But Disney's name is on the title, so it definitely counts. And as versions of A Christmas Carol hold up, there's some things that are really good, and some things that are not very good. I guess it's kind of pointless going over the story, seeing how there's, what, two of you who don't know it. But what the hell? I'll be nice.
Doug (vo): Ebenezer Scrooge is a heartless, cold man who has a real hate for Christmas. He's not very nice to his employee, Bob Cratchit, but all that changes when the apparition of his old partner, Jacob Marley, comes back to life and tells him he'll be haunted by three ghosts. These are the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and they do a good job of scaring the shit out of him while also showing what the true meaning of Christmas is. Actually, let me go back and change that. They don't just scare the shit out of him, they really...fucking...scare...the shit out of him.
Doug (vo): And that's the real irony of this movie. When I went in, I thought it was gonna be too light-hearted, like it was gonna be too goofy. Jim Carrey as Mr. Scrooge, and all the over-the-top CG animation, especially coming from Disney, I thought this was gonna be a real goofball. And don't get me wrong, there's some real stupid goofball moments.
[One "goofball" moment is shown, showing the ghost of Jacob Marley accidentally getting his mouth damaged while yelling, so he moves his mouth around with his hand as he speaks]
Jacob Marley: Mankind...was my business. Forbearance and benevolence were all my business...
Doug (vo): Yeah, that added a lot. The rest of the movie is not only dark, though, it's intensely dark. And don't get me wrong, I love dark stuff. It's one of the reasons I love A Christmas Carol, it does have so many dark elements. But...good God! There's supposed to be a balance! What made Christmas Carol so great is that it did have a lot of dark elements, but also had a lot of cheerful elements. It's supposed to make you realize the wonder and enjoyment of Christmas. You go to the dark stuff so that when you come back to the light stuff, you can appreciate it all the more. This movie likes the dark stuff way too much. Take the scene where the Ghost of Christmas Present is supposed to be fading away. Now this is usually a very sad, quiet and mysterious scene as we say goodbye to one of our favorite characters. But here...
[The scene is shown. The bells chime loudly, causing the Ghost of Christmas Present to clutch his chest and fall to the ground. The Ghost still laughs all through this as his skin fades away, revealing nothing but his skeleton]
Doug (vo): THE FUCK?! There's quite a few scenes like this that go so over-the-top dark that it's almost comical. However, the appropriate dark scenes that are supposed to be disturbing are done pretty well, too, but we'll get to that in a moment.
[The main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Jim Carrey, is shown in several scenes]
Doug (vo): How's the acting in the movie? Particularly, Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge? You know, sadly, Jim Carrey is one of those people where every single time you see him, you know he's trying his hardest, you know he's acting his heart out, you know every single moment he's onscreen, he's thinking to himself what is the best thing he can do to give a good performance. And I give so much credit to him for that, but, God, every single time I see him, I just see Jim Carrey. I almost never see an actual character there, I just see Jim Carrey trying to portray that character. I have the same problem with Leonardo DiCaprio or Tom Cruise. [Images of those two actors are shown briefly] I can just never see past the fact that it's Leonardo DiCaprio or Tom Cruise. To his credit, though, it's not quite as bad as you may think it is. His voice is very distinct and very clear, it's nice to listen to. His over-the-top moments are much more restrained, despite an obvious over-the-top design, and I think he can get across the serious moments okay. That is...okay, let me put it this way. I've seen a lot more Ebenezer Scrooges that were more over-the-top than this. Have you seen Albert Finney's version lately?
[A scene from Albert Finney's version, Scrooge (1970), is shown]
Scrooge (Albert Finney): Let me assure you that I am a man of the highest principles in the most generous spirit!
Doug (vo; sounding weirded out at Finney's performance): Yeah...
[Back to A Christmas Carol, where we see several clips of Carrey's other roles in the film, the three Ghosts]
Doug (vo): Where he really doesn't succeed, though, is playing the other Ghosts. Now don't get me wrong. The idea of having the actor who plays Scrooge play the other Ghosts, I actually think is kind of clever, like they're all sort of representations of him or variations. And when they quote his own lines back to him, it's all the more effective.
Ghost of Christmas Present: If he is to die, [Suddenly speaks in Scrooge's voice] he had better do it... [His face briefly turns to Scrooge's face] and decrease the surplus population!
Doug (vo): I think that's actually kind of a cool idea. But, yeah, they're pretty awkward, with the exception of the Ghost of Christmas Future, who's kept in shadow, so really, anybody could play him. The Ghost of Christmas Past has a great design, but just sort of a weird Irish accent and a weird way of breathing and talking, and it's just odd.
Ghost of Christmas Past: A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is...left here still.
Doug (vo): And the Ghost of Christmas Present laughs way too damn much, and it's sort of that weird Jim Carrey laugh where he's kind of playing to the camera. Yeah, it's pretty annoying.
[Several more of the film's characters are shown]
Doug (vo): So that's one thing to have the actor who plays Scrooge also play the Ghosts, but why is it a lot of the actors in the other parts are playing other roles? I mean, okay, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth, I mean, they can hide their voices a little bit, but I hear Bob Hoskins' voice like six or seven times in this thing*, and that is one of the most distinct voices on the planet. He's a great actor, one of my favorites, but when you're trying to put him in an animated film and trying to pawn off that these are different people when clearly it's always Bob Hoskins, it's really distracting.
- (Actually, contrary to what Doug said, Bob Hoskins only played two characters in the movie and Colin Firth only played one)
[Several of the film's motion capture are shown in various other clips. One clip, in particular, focuses on Fezziwig's Christmas party scene, showing Fezziwig and his partner dancing together]
Doug (vo): How about the motion capture? People always have a real love or hate feeling towards this, because a lot of times, they feel like, "Well, they feel it's great for the actors, because the actors can actually emote and it's their performance. And it works much better blending them into the CG environment because they're already CG themselves." However, a lot of people feel that's a problem because that takes the performance away from the animators. Now the animator can't emote unless he just wants to stick to the performance that, well, the actor is giving. And it definitely looks weird when you have some scenes of people that look really realistic, but then other scenes like this that are so distinctly cartoony and really sort of ruin the tone. They just don't match up. I guess I'm sort of half-and-half, but, yeah, I guess I do sort of prefer it either being more the actor or more the animator. So maybe it's best this sort of face sensor technology isn't being done anymore, but who knows? Maybe somebody can take it to a new dimension. I'm open to it.
[Various other clips resume showing]
Doug (vo): So, for a die-hard Christmas Carol fan like myself, is there nothing worth recommending in this film? Actually, not only do I think there is some really good stuff in this film, but I think it's some of the best I've ever seen in any movie. But like I said, just some certain parts. For example, the way the Ghost of Christmas Present transports Ebenezer is really something to see. I saw this in IMAX in 3D, and this was a really great effect. But it still looks pretty good on TV as well. Even though I said before it is overly dark, when they get it right, they get it pretty right. I mean, I love the atmosphere just building up to the appearance of the first Ghost. I love the quiet moments, I love the still moments. The Shadow of Christmas Future is literally a shadow. That's a great idea. You almost never see him in three dimensions, he's always just up against a wall or against the sheets or...ooh, it's just a great creepy image.
[The scene showing Bob Cratchit and his family mourning Tiny Tim is shown]
Doug (vo): And, in my opinion, it has one of the most effective scenes in any Christmas Carol adaptation. Again, without giving too much away, though I'm sure a lot of you probably know, Ebenezer is responsible for the death of a family member of Bob Cratchit. Scrooge in every version, as a result, has to see what Bob Cratchit is going through after his loss. Cratchit tries to hide his pain from his family, but stops when he gets out of their sight. And since Ebenezer can't be seen, Cratchit doesn't know that he's actually stopping right in front of him, exposing all the raw, emotional pain that he's going through right in front of Ebenezer's face. There's nowhere for him to escape, he has to face it head-on. That was unbelievable. It's probably the best variation of that moment I've ever seen.
Doug (vo): Final verdict? If you're sick and tired of A Christmas Carol and everyone doing the adaptations, trying to be the one adaptation that everyone wants to see, the most faithful one, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, this one probably isn't going to sway you. Anyone who's sick of hearing the dialogue word for word from the book over and over is probably not gonna be changed by this. However, if you are a big fan of the story like I am, I think you might find one or two alterations in this that you might actually see as being worth it. Yeah, some parts are stupid, but honestly, going in, they're not as stupid as I thought they were gonna be. I mean, just say it. "Jim Carrey in Disney's Christmas Carol." Yeah, this could've been a lot worse. Is it something I would watch every Christmas? Probably not. But then again, I did watch it a couple times after I saw it in the theaters, and I enjoyed admiring the scenes that I admire and...
[Another "goofball" scene is shown, showing Jacob Marley having fixed his face, but his mouth has now been fully closed like a zipper, rendering him mumbling]
Doug (vo): ...rolling my eyes at the others. So take it for what it's worth. I am glad I saw it, but I will say, it definitely gives new meaning to the term, "Scare the Dickens out of you".
[The scene showing the dying Ghost of Christmas Present turning into a skeleton is shown again]
Doug (vo): THE FUCK?!
[One of the film's last scenes, showing Scrooge having dinner at his nephew Fred's house, is shown as "God Bless Us Everyone" reaches its end]