Holy shit, there are like a thousand adaptations of Mr. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Who knows, maybe next year for December I’ll spend the entire month only covering different versions of the classic tale… But until that possible future, I feel like I should touch upon at least one adaptation each December. Last year was the beloved The Muppet Christmas Carol, but this year I somehow found myself watching the 1997 A Christmas Carol direct-to-VHS, Saturday morning cartoon-esque, animated version that was… not good. I’d say an attempt was made, but I’m not convinced of that.
I don’t actually have to cover the plot, right? Scrooge, Marley, three more ghosts, Tiny Tim, yadda yadda yadda. A tale as old as time, if time began in 1843. This forgotten version is animated, so the draw is the voice actors. Tim Curry plays Ebenezer Scrooge in a role that just… didn’t work for me. I felt like he was trying some weird accent, and it just didn’t land. This might be the worst voice acting I’ve heard from him? But even worse was Whoopi Goldberg as the Spirit of Christmas Present, doing this absolutely awful British(?) accent. Someone should’ve stopped her, it’s terrible. Ed Asner is Marley, Michael York (Basil Exposition from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) as Bob Cratchit, Kath Soucie (Phil & Lil from Rugrats) as the Ghost of Christmas Past–again, doing a horrendous British accent–and… oh man, they really tried for Belle, but it’s just sad to see.
Belle is the relatively minor character of Scrooge’s old girlfriend who dumps him because he’s a dick. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, her song “When Love is Gone” tugged at the heartstrings so much, Disney executives cut it from the DVD release thinking it would make the audience too sad (side note, the version on Disney+ STILL. HAS. NOT. added the song back to the film, keeping it separate in the “Extras” section). Well, Belle in this adaptation also has an unremarkable song about crossing a bridge without Scrooge, and she’s voiced by Jodi Benson. That name sounds familiar? Well, she’s Ariel in The Little Mermaid, so that’s not nothing. What a waste of such talent.
Oh, right, this is also a musical. None of the songs are good, in part because this is barely over an hour so each song has to be around a minute at most. The only one that stands out was “Santa’s Sooty Suit,” and only because the chorus is simply, “Scrubba dubba dub dub dub dub dub, scrubba dubba dub dub dub.” I pray that with time, this song leaves my brain and I can know peace once again.
The animation looks lazy, the special effects used for transitions are practically straight out of PowerPoint, there’s that creaking metal door sound that I hate from Harbinger Down that’s used more than it should be–the whole thing does not hold up. As I have said before, the 90’s were a mistake, and this lame movie is proof.
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