Christmas Carol (1938) Review

Time for another Christmas Carol adventure. This is one of the earlier ones from 1938 and is definitely still a classic. The story has aged well even if Scrooge himself can be a bit cheesy with the quick turnaround here. Of course he does have to turn good sooner or later so might as well have this occur early on. It’s easy to see why the story got so big as it’s a well rounded adventure.

The movie starts off with Fred getting ready to visit his Uncle Scrooge. Scrooge isn’t big on Christmas though and is still being rather rude to everyone. He has earned himself quite the reputation so everyone knows to avoid Scrooge. Fred is unable to convince Scrooge to come over for Christmas so he heads on home. Scrooge fired his assistant Bob on Christmas Eve which shows just how cruel he can be. Well, 3 ghosts have appeared and they are going to show Scrooge the past, present, and future in order to get him back into Christmas shape. Will Scrooge see the light or will he keep yelling Humbug?

The cast is fairly small here so each character gets a good amount of development. You can quickly see each of their personalities from the jump and that provides all the context you need for the story. Like Fred is instantly shown to be a really happy guy who loves Christmas. That’s who he is and makes for a great foil to Scrooge. It’s clear that Fred is someone who will be having a lot of fun all of the time and his family was certainly doing well too with their party.

Then you have Bob who is an honest worker and is just trying to make enough money to pay the bills. It seems like there aren’t a whole lot of jobs in this town given that the only option was to work for Scrooge. I would say Bob is extremely timid but when you absolutely need a job and there no union at the ready, it’s understandable that he would be walking on eggshells the whole time. It’s a shame that he had to get canned on Christmas Eve just for having a bit of fun.

As for Scrooge, well he is the ultimate Penny pincher. The guy is as rich as can be but he still doesn’t want to pay a living wage and won’t even put wood in the fireplace to keep it warm. Scrooge even goes as far as to completely shun the people trying to raise money for the poor. Scrooge is doing his best to play the role of the Grinch and ruin Christmas but that’s when the 3 ghosts come in. They try all of the routines, being nice, scaring Scrooge into submission, or even letting him feel like he’s in control.

Before the 3 ghosts though we do get to see good ole Marley. He’s always an interesting character because he was also a very successful businessman but someone who was also generous. Somehow Scrooge didn’t even know about this so I feel like Marley must have been exceptional at business for this not to have been apparent. Still, it didn’t go very well for him since he was in chains. Was he just not good enough? In a lot of Christmas Carol versions he was shown to be just as bad as Scrooge so it made sense why he was shacked and trying to tell Scrooge not to make the same mistakes. In this version he seemed decent from the start but maybe he was still stingy to an extent and that was his downfall. It’s a small thing but something to think about.

The first ghost is the nice one who shows him the past. She has good speed and reaction times with how she was able to teleport away from his grab in the end. From the 3 visions the first is never as strong as the other two since the first is about his childhood days. Not a lot going on there but we do see how he managed to push everyone away. If he had just gone to play with the other kids then it could have been all good but I don’t think that was possible for a kid his age.

Then we have the second ghost who is the father of many. He has a lot of fun mind controlling the people which is always a bit iffy. It’s why you rarely see heroes using mind control since even using it for the right reasons seems like a bit much. You’ll never know which characters are being good or mind controlled. Nice enough guy though and by this point Scrooge had totally bought in to the spirit of Christmas. You feel like the third ghost didn’t even need to appear but I guess you might as well go for the full combo at that point.

Finally we get to the last ghost who isn’t very talkative. It’s rather late by this point so the ghost probably wanted to get this done and head out. We see the bleak futures of what could be if Scrooge had stayed in his ways. He certainly would have left quite a lot of loss in his wake. It shows how powerfully rich he was in the end. With his fortune he could really make a difference in the town.

The Christmas Carol is a fun film with good pacing and writing. There aren’t any real weaknesses to the story so you should have a good time even if you have seen the story told many times before. In this particular version it felt like Scrooge turned good a little too quickly which would be my only note. It just made the third ghost feel a bit unnecessary which I don’t think was the intention. Usually you want all 3 to play a good role.

Overall, A Christmas Carol is as good a story as it ever was. You get to see what a town experience may have looked like so many years ago and the cast is enjoyable to watch. It would be quite exciting if you could visit your own past as a sort of “Greatest Hits” montage. I could probably go without seeing the future though to avoid any time loops. You never know what ripple effects you might end up creating which will just cause a whole lot of trouble. If you haven’t seen this one yet then it’s worth checking out. Of course there are so many different versions which are all usually solid so you don’t really have to watch this one in particular.

Overall 7/10

Scrooged Review

There have been a whole lot of Christmas Carol adaptations over the years. I’ve seen a lot of them and likely have yet to see several others. I can definitely say that this is the most memorable one of the bunch and probably handles Scrooge the best. I feel like he put up more resistance than his other incarnations and knowing about the iconic story does put this Scrooge at an advantage as well.

The film naturally starts off by showing how mean Scrooge is. He is corporate to the core and won’t even let his people have Christmas off. That’s because he wants to have a live show on Christmas for the extra ratings. His boss is definitely excited about this and is low-key the real boss of the company. He insists that animals should be added to the broadcast since they watch TV now. Scrooge sarcastically agrees. Unfortunately, his life begins to turn upside down when he is visited by a ghost. He will have to survive 3 more encounters with his personality intact or he will lose to the very story that he has made it his mission to mock! Meanwhile, there’s a new director in town who is called to help with the movie but he may just be there in order to replace Scrooge once and for all.

The first act of the film is definitely the best part. There are two kinds of mean leads. The ones who are subtly glorified by the end and make it personal and the ones who are just generally mean to everyone but it’s not all that malicious. The latter is the right kind of mean lead and fortunately that is the one we get here. This is a comedy film that is actually funny which seems to be a rare feat at times. Pretty much any scene with the old Scrooge is solid.

He’s very confident in himself and has made it pretty high up in his career by stepping on all those who would oppose him. That’s why he isn’t too worried when the ghosts come knocking. While you can’t help but applaud his proactive approach to finding the ghosts, it does start to hurt his reputation since nobody else can see them and that makes it easy to frame Scrooge. One of the ghosts in particular is quite aggressive as she spends a lot of her screentime beating Scrooge up. This is around where he lost a lot of his fiery spirit and it’s easy to see why. He was effectively humbled here. The final ghost of Christmas Future is also intense as expected. He has always had a really cool design and the movie goes all the way here. The spirit looks rather disturbing and even houses demons inside of the cloak. Scrooge definitely didn’t have a chance against this one.

Naturally, it’s inevitable that Scrooge has to turn good since that is the whole moral of the film. Fortunately the scenes of him being good only last for a few minutes but his speech on the TV did drag on quite a bit. That’s probably the only scene that I thought went on for too long but it’s probably because the scene in question was definitely on the cheesy side. There’s two ways you can take his 180 character switch. One is that he has genuinely changed and I’m pretty sure that this is what the film is telling us.

The other one is that he is simply playing along in order to keep his life. The spirits basically told Scrooge that they’ll murder him if he doesn’t have a change of heart and while they may have just been trying to scare him, it’s hard to take that risk. He could just be trying to save his own life which is certainly in line with his usual motivation of looking out for himself. The story is also a little tragic since Scrooge initially started out as an earnest worker. When everyone else were having a party he kept on working. He had no time to fool around with the others and just wanted to climb the corporate ladder. As with many though, he eventually forgot why he climbed it in the first place and now takes delight in making everyone else’s life harder.

The film does go a little far with some of the costumes though. Scrooge wants to make an edgy Christmas Carol filled with scantily clad characters which is a bit much and the same goes for the female ghost. It’s certainly not a huge deal in the film but since the ghost at least gets a lot of screentime they probably could have given her a nicer design. As long as they keep in the punches (Yes, she goes for full punches and even some combos against Scrooge) she would still appear to be rather scary.

One of the main reasons why this film was able to succeed is because the writing was pretty solid. You need a good script in order to make Scrooge witty and mean without going too far. Then the rest of the characters are written pretty well too. I guess the only subplot that feels rather tacked on is the romance with the main heroine. I’m guessing the film wanted this plot because in most of the Christmas Carols, Scrooge’s biggest regret is not getting together with someone. The heroine just never gets much of a role though and seems to have done a very good job of leading her own life without Scrooge. I think just showing Scrooge a glimpse at how happy she is would have sufficed for that plot. It’s one opportunity that he completely lost and he won’t get another shot, but at least he would learn from it. The film doesn’t give it a really big focus anyway so it’s rather minor when you think about it.

One subplot that was excellent was Scrooge firing someone on Christmas Eve. That’s definitely one of those things that you just don’t do. It’s an unspoken rule that you wait until after Christmas to let someone go like that. Well, the guy didn’t go down quietly and does take out his shotgun. A very wise move if you’re going to go up against the full power of corporate. The film can really start to get outlandish at times, but never gets too excessive and again, the humor is on point. The film actually manages to pull this off and that’s no easy feat.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Scrooged quite a bit. Your enjoyment of it will depend on how much you like Scrooge himself. If you find him to be too mean to the point where you can’t stand to see him on screen then this will definitely be tough. If you don’t mind him all that much then it’ll work out pretty well. The film does a good job of being humorous and has solid writing as well. What more could you ask for? Scrooge maybe cried a little too easily the first time but beyond that his character is consistent the whole time he is the antagonist. The ending of the film is a little weak, but it’s hard to avoid that ending without changing the whole meaning of the story. Scrooge is one of those villains that is actually fun to root for and is more likable than the rest of the cast despite being such a mean guy. That’s how much charisma he has.

Overall 7/10

Mickey’s Christmas Carol Review

It’s time for a fun look at the classic Christmas Carol. I’ve seen many versions of this over the years and it’s a nice way to get prepared for Christmas. Mickey Mouse and the gang adapt this story well. As the special is very quick, they go through the 3 ghosts in record time. It may feel a tad too short at times, but it gets the job done. Scrooge does a good job portraying…Scrooge and Mickey Mouse has the solid one liners when necessary. It’s a fun special and there’s nothing to really dislike here.

In case you don’t know the plot of the Christmas Carol, it follows a jaded old man. His name is Scrooge and money is the only thing that he likes. He has lived his life like this for many years, but this year is different. He is visited by three ghosts who show him the past, present, and future. If Scrooge doesn’t change his ways, he’ll be in chains for his whole afterlife and a little kid will die. Scrooge must see the value of Christmas or he will go down this dark path. Will he see the error of his ways?

Scrooge is easily the best character here. Convincing the people trying to earn money for the poor that there work wasn’t going to end well was pretty strategic. Scrooge consistently shows that he is the smartest guy in the room. He also gets some of the best lines like when one of the ghosts said “It’s time to go” Scrooge responded with “Then go already!” As a cynical old duck, it’s fun to see him boss everyone around and try to sour everyone’s day. Only giving Mickey half a day off for Christmas shows just how strict he is. He even gave up his fiancee and then charged her for rent so he could get richer. Naturally, he’s not quite as fun once he turns into a nice guy, but it had to happen at some point. It would have been quite the ending had Scrooge decided that he just had too much Eggnog before bed and then went back to his old ways. It’s a rather sudden turnaround and it may not be all that believable, but it’s not supposed to be. Also, there is only so much that you can do for a character’s development in the course of 20 minutes.

Mickey Mouse is a nice supporting character. He’s a nice guy who just does his best the whole time, but he also gets in a few moments of rebellion such as when he told Scrooge “Bah Humbug!” before “catching himself” and saying Merry Christmas instead. Tiny Tim was around as well and he’s never been my favorite character, (A little too cheesy the whole time) but the special would be quite different without him I suppose. The rest of the family were less antagonistic towards Scrooge than they were in the Scrooged film. (Still the definitive adaption of the Christmas Carol. Not necessarily the best, but it’s the one that I automatically think of) There aren’t a whole lot of other characters around, but we do have the 3 ghosts. The ghost of the present was easily the most annoying one. I liked the ghost of the past though since it was a very fitting choice. Disney’s characters were really made for this roles. The ghost of the future was suitably mean, but at least he was a nice guy here since he’s using scare tactics to get Scrooge to make the right call. That sort of counts as being nice right?…

The animation is pretty fun and retro. This special certainly came out a long time ago and yet it looks a lot crisper and more modern than Charlie Brown and other similar cartoons from its time. Depends on how long of a period we call the same time era though. There’s not much of a soundtrack, but music wasn’t a really big focus in media back in the day. That’s just how it was at the time. The sound effects really stand out this way though so that’s a positive.

Overall, This was a fun special. I still know these characters more from Kingdom Hearts than I do from the old classics so it’s neat to see them in their less serious forms for a change. It’s like looking at the characters before they peered into the darkness and learned how grave everything around them was. Donald’s voice is still perfect for all of his scenes. This special may not have gone out of its way for any exaggerated humor or forced jokes, but that’s exactly why it managed to be humorous. It’s a well written special and the kind of program that you couldn’t really expect to find nowadays. There’s just something to be said for these classic characters adapting such a classic story. I definitely recommend it for Christmas and I’m sure that I’ll be seeing more Christmas programs before the year is up.

Overall 7/10