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JCO Review: "Disney's A Christmas Carol"06 Nov 2009
By Heather Turk (Editor/Reporter (L.A.))
Carrey, 3-D Effects Can't Save Tired But True Christmas Carol
Over the years, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been adapted for the big screen countless times with everyone from Scrooge McDuck (1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol) to Michael Caine (1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol) playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Most recently, New Line Cinema’s "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" took the classic holiday tale to the silver screen, albeit with a few changes (the romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey centered on Valentine's Day instead of Christmas). "Disney's A Christmas Carol," the latest big screen retelling, stays much more faithful to the original work than some of its predecessors, which is a bit surprising considering the star of the film: Jim Carrey.
Those walking into Robert Zemeckis’ 3-D animated adventure expecting the zany, rubber-faced comic they’ve grown to love over the years will be sorely disappointed, as "A Christmas Carol" stays pretty true to Dickens’ beloved story. There are no moments of improv and no script rewrites to let Carrey’s comedic style shine, which is fine, but with a story told as many times as this one, even at a quick 96 minutes, "A Christmas Carol" feels a little long since viewers have heard it all before.
© Walt Disney Pictures
In "A Christmas Carol", Carrey plays seven roles, including Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come--although that last credit is a bit of a stretch, as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is merely a shadowy, death-like figure with a creepy pointing finger. Really, crediting anyone with the part is a joke. Also playing multiple roles in the movie is Gary Oldman (Bob Cratchit, Marley’s Ghost and Tiny Tim), Bob Hoskins (Mr. Fezziwig and Old Joe) and Robin Wright Penn (Belle, Fan), amongst many other supporting players. Really, the only big star who voices just one role is Colin Firth as Fred. While hearing the actors voice an assortment of roles, though, may sound like fun, to differentiate the characters a bit, each actor used a different accent or played with their own accent to create the various voices heard in the film. For some reason, this results in dialogue that’s a bit hard to understand at times, making the story--as familiar as it is--difficult to follow during certain scenes. Lines go by and viewers haven’t a clue what was said, making parts of "A Christmas Carol" very frustrating to watch.
Luckily, the 3-D effects keep audiences entertained throughout most of the film. Unlike some recent big screen 3-D offerings, the effects used in "A Christmas Carol" are pretty amazing to watch, and when the snowflakes begin to fall, you’ll have to stop yourself from reaching out and trying to grab one. While the commercials for the film exaggerate the 3-D effects a bit, making it seem like Carrey will come out of the screen and fly over your head, the effects are still well done nevertheless. If only you could enjoy them without wearing those annoying glasses!
© Walt Disney Pictures
While adults and kids alike will be entertained by Carol’s 3-D effects, the movie may not be suitable for young viewers. Sure, it has a PG rating and is a Disney film, but parents shouldn’t take the MPAA’s reason for giving the movie a PG rating lightly. The film is rated PG for “scary sequences and images,” and younger viewers may be a bit terrified by the events that unfold during the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come’s visit. The sequence that plays out, though animated, is pretty intense, and even adults will be surprised by how scary it is. Parents with young children may want to sit through "A Christmas Carol" by themselves first to judge whether or not their kids can handle it.
Overall, "A Christmas Carol" is a faithful retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved novella, complete with some amazing 3-D effects that really bring the story to life…but one has to wonder if another adaptation was really needed. Without offering anything new to the classic story, "Disney's A Christmas Carol" just feels tired and dull at times, even with Carrey front and center. At least "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" brought something new to the table. Whether or not "A Christmas Carol" brings in Grinch-sized earnings remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: as far as Jim Carrey holiday classics go, just like Dr. Seuss said, it looks like the Grinch stole Christmas after all.
© Walt Disney Pictures
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