Christmas: Top 3 Unique Retellings of ‘A Christmas Carol’

Screenshot of Bill Murray and David Johansen in ‘Scrooged’. Copyright goes to Mirage Productions and Paramount Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

With Christmas just around the corner, pretty much every Christmas movie known to man is being played on television. Even if you prefer watching movies and shows on streaming services, there are plenty of Christmas movies each service is pushing this month. A lot of those movies will be adaptations of ‘A Christmas Carol’. It’s a popular tale and one that people seem to like considering how many new adaptations we get every year. We get a lot of retellings of the original story, including some very faithful adaptations of the book. But we also get some interesting content that strays pretty far from what we usually see. The movies that put a spin on the classic tale and still manage to both get the point across, and make it just as entertaining, tend to catch my eye more than the regular retellings. So I’m going to talk about my top three unique takes on this Christmas story, in no particular order, and why their changes took them to the next level. Let’s get started!

‘A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong’:

This is a TV special, but it’s a really fun one to watch. If you aren’t familiar with any of the ‘Goes Wrong’ productions, I would highly recommend checking out ‘The Goes Wrong Show’ currently on Amazon Prime. The basic premise is that a theatre company called the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, whose members often pretend to be very professional, is actually full of a bunch of actors and crew members who have very little experience at their jobs. This means, of course, that whatever production they choose to put on inevitably ends in hilarious disaster. The name of the real theatre company who puts on each production is the Mischief Theatre Company. In essence: They’re actors who play actors that don’t know what they’re doing. In this version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, the cast and crew of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society hijack a live production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ airing on BBC, starring Sir Derek Jacobi, and replace the cast and crew with their own. Chaos follows, as you’d expect. Two of the actors fight over the role of Scrooge, leading both of them to dress as the character and attempt to sabotage each other to prevent them from getting in their way. The actor who plays Bob Cratchit is so bad at memorizing his lines that all of his lines are written on various pieces of the set, including props, which he has to quickly find while his character is still speaking. For one sequence the group attempts to use a green screen, but technical difficulties cause a computer menu to come up instead of the digital background. There are some things in this adaptation that fall flat. I didn’t find it the best of Mischief Theatre Company’s work. But it was still hilarious and worth watching if you want something different to watch.

‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’:

Technically this is the original story, just with Muppets. I mean, plenty of kids adaptations have come out to retell this story with familiar characters playing each role. But The Muppets add a few things that make this just a bit more unique than some other adaptations. For one, Michael Caine is playing the entire thing like a very serious production of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Which only works in the movie’s favor. Not only does it make the Muppet characters seem more real, it heightens the hilarity. It also takes some creative liberties with each character to better reflect the Muppet character portraying them. Gonzo plays Charles Dickens, who narrates the entire story. But he’s pretty much Gonzo, and Rizzo’s along for the ride refusing to play anyone but himself. As usual, these two end up in some pretty funny shenanigans on the side lines. Miss Piggy plays Emily Cratchit, who spends her time either eating in the corner where her family can’t see her, or threatening bodily harm towards Scrooge. Fozzie Bear is Fozziwig, because that joke was just to good to pass up. The Muppets who are unique to this movie are the ghosts of past, present, and future. All of these puppets are stunning. I find myself especially floored by the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is taller than Michael Caine and incredibly huggable. This movie is also a musical. When stories that don’t usually have music add in musical numbers, I tend to be skeptical. But as usual, The Muppets add in every number without it seeming awkward. Even Michael Caine, who is acting seriously throughout the entire movie, seems to be enjoying himself during every song. It’s no surprise that The Muppets can pull this off in a way no one else can.

‘Scrooged’:

This movie is the loosest adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ on this list. It stars Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a television company president who pressures his company to broadcast a live production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ on Christmas Eve, effectively cutting his staff off from their families during the holiday. After he fires an executive for disagreeing with him days before Christmas, sends all of his friends and family cheap company towels as Christmas presents, and continually brushes off his hard-working personal assistant, he unsurprisingly draws the ire of the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. The movie is absolutely full of Bill Murray’s sarcastic sense of humor. I don’t think there’s one scene where Murray isn’t dramatically delivering some sort of witty comeback. But it’s a heartfelt adaptation. Frank’s personal assistant, Grace, is a really charming character who’s family seems more genuinely close than most adaptations of Bob Cratchit’s family. The very different versions of the ghosts also draw the eye. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a smoking taxi driver who mocks Cross for claiming the past won’t make him emotional. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a fairy who spends all of her screen-time violently assaulting Frank Cross. The Ghost of Christmas Future is a hulking figure with warped souls underneath his robes and a television screen for a face that constantly switches between Cross alive and Cross dead. My only complaint with this movie comes when Frank Cross goes on air to give his “I’ve changed” speech towards the end of the ‘A Christmas Carol’ production. The speech is a little less heart-warming and a little more insane. But it’s still fun to watch Bill Murray go a little crazy.

There are plenty of ‘A Christmas Carol’ movies and specials to watch out there, but these are some of the more creative ones I’ve enjoyed. Of course, there are some I’ve missed. And I don’t think I will ever be able to see all of the versions of this classic that have been created. But I know that these ones will be there when I need something decidedly different to watch for the Holidays. I hope you find one on this list that can makes your Christmas movie watching more interesting, as well!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

One thought on “Christmas: Top 3 Unique Retellings of ‘A Christmas Carol’

  1. When it comes to A Christmas Carol, the one that always needs to be watched it the George C. Scott version. I grew up on that film and became a family tradition to watch that.

    However- ever since Man Who Invented Christmas came out- the result was this must be watched before A Christmas Carol.

    Like

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