- Written and Directed by Stephen Donnelly
- December 2, 2022
- Adapted from the 1970 musical Scrooge
- Ebenezer Scrooge-Luke Evans
- Young Ebenezer-Sil Van Der Zwan
- Jacob Marley-Jonathan Pryce
- Ghost of Christmas Past-Olivia Colman
- Ghost of Christmas Present-Trevor Dion Nicholas
- Bob Cratchit-Johnny Flynn
- Kathy Cratchit-Devon Pomeroy
- Tiny Tim-Rupert Turnbull
- Mr. Fezziwig-James Cosmo
- Harry Huffman-Fra Fee
- Gentleman/Vicar-Graham Silcock
- Beryl-Zaris-Angel Hator
- Jen Scrooge-Jemima Lucy Newman
- Tom Jenkins-Giles Terera
- Tamal-Homer Todiwala
Ebeneezer Scrooge is given the chance to change when visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve.
I had hoped to add this film to the list of Netflix animated movies as well as A Christmas Carol adaptions I have enjoyed. Unfortunately that did not happen. This movie started out bad and failed to improve to the point I regret the slightly less than two hours I waisted and can never recapture.
As adaptions of the narrative go this is not all that impressive. It does too much original that mutes (mutilates?) the point of the original narrative. And the film as a whole just talks down. It’s afraid to be serious and doesn’t realize you can give it straight to children without treating them like fragile simpletons.
Opening a narrative based on A Christmas Carol (and the 70s musical Scrooge) with a fun and bouncy song can be a bit of a mistake as an opening number sets the tone for the entire movie. Ever see The Muppet Movie? Rainbow Connection set the tone for that whole film. A Christmas Carol is not an upbeat and fun story. This is the story of an old and bitter soul given one last chance at redemption.
And its issues are largely caused by changes to the narrative. The least of these (though the most prominent) is that Ebeneezer now has a dog named Prudence. The presence of Prudence the Dog does a great deal to humanize him and make him not seem so bad. He’s more of a jerk than a bitter miser. He is not just kind to this dog but loving. And Prudence was not even his initially. He inherited her from Jacob Marley who loved the dog as well. This implies a greater bond between the two than just that of partners. You do not leave your precious furbaby with just anybody!
There are scenes and dialogue meant to make Scrooge look mean or cruel but to me those moments-such as the one with shop owner Tom Jenkins-came off to me as if Tom was trying to pull one over on Scrooge and Scrooge was not having it. Scrooge does double the money Tom owes for a mere extra two days but Tom’s reasons for the extension felt lazy and half thought through. Then again this moment came from the screenwriters and not the mind of Dickens. Such is the danger of adding to a classic.
Some of the extra plot elements even appear to take inspiration from Charles Dickens’ actually. For example it’s revealed in this film that Ebeneezer’s father spent himself into debtors prison and Ebeneezer was forced to take a job in a shoe factory in order to support himself. As I recall something similar happened in Dickens’ life as I recall though not in the book to Scrooge.
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol is much more of a musical than it is anything else. Unlike a Disney film this is not a movie sprinkled with song but a story told through song. There are songs atop songs here and none of them are that good. They’re okay and not disappointing but you just won’t remember any of them. None will stick out. They are watered down and avoid focusing too much on the holiday or speaking directly about events which hurts the story they are meant to tell.
From a narrative perspective in this version of the story Scrooge seems to change pretty early on after the first ghost and then he goes back and changes again with the second ghost and then goes back and finally has a permanent character change by the time of the final ghost. Seriously. The Ghost of Christmas past could’ve dumped him back in the present day and he probably would’ve been a better person. It’s not a slow transition but a transition and a reset.
The animation is okay. It’s not ugly but it’s nothing that highlights the story. The faces have little distinction and things overall look weirdly smooth. The only highlight are the arrivals of all the spectral entities. Those border on head spinning and are rather quite visually engaging. But they confused looking cool in those with telling an actual story.
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol will not disappoint children but may be a bit difficult at points for adults. If you wanna watch something with your kids this is just fine but otherwise you can move along and watch some better version.