December 2, 2018

Holiday Moviepalooza: The Muppet Christmas Carol

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Unless, of course, you are a bitter, broken person who finds the holidays little more than a painful slog through memories of previous holiday seasons that scarred you with horrible memories and dark thoughts...And those people are Derek and Jake! And they want to kick off this year's Holiday Moviepalooza (aka A Big Bag of Dickens) by setting just the right tone. And what better way to do that is with a gaggle of Muppets?

This week, the guys sat down to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, a telling of the classic Charles Dickens tale, starring Michael Caine and the usual roster of much-loved Muppets, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Rizzo the Rat, Animal and the rest of The Electric Mayhem, and perennial hecklers Statler and Waldorf. It also includes a number of new ones, as well as a few more humans, but we all know Michael Caine and the Muppet regulars are the real draw here.

The screen can barely contain the raw sexual chemistry between these two.
Gonzo (Goelz) is Charles Dickens. He, along with his rat friend, Rizzo (Steve Whitmire), want to tell you a story...It's Christmas Eve in 19th Century London, and Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, bitter man who refuses to acknowledge the the cloying sweetness of celebrating Christmas. His head bookkeeper, Bob Cratchit (Whitmire as Kermit), and numerous rat-based bookkeepers suffer Scrooge's rage as he deals with charity workers (Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker - Goelz and Whitmire, respectively) and Scrooge's nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh). He also assaults Bean Bunny (Whitmire again) with a wreath, in case you didn't despise him before that point.

Cratchit himself is having a rough go as it is, receiving very little pay from Scrooge to support a wife (Piggy - Frank Oz) and four kids, one of whom -- Tiny Tim (Jerry Nelson as Kermit's nephew, Robin) -- is severely ill. When, at the encouragement of the rat bookkeepers, Cratchit asks for Christmas Day off for all of them, Scrooge allows it, but threatens to make things bad if they don't show up early the day after.

After shutting down the shop and watching some penguins skate (it is a Muppet movie, after all), Bob goes home to see the family.  His wife, Emily, is not happy about the way Scrooge treats her husband, but she tries to keep a happy face so little Tim doesn't get upset. There's something suspicious about that kid, as well as the other three; the girls are pigs, but the boys are frogs. Something sketchy is going on here.

Somebody hasn't been honest in this relationship.
Scrooge goes home to his cold, dark apartments. But before he can enter, the knocker on his door turns into the face of one of his deceased partners, Jacob Marley (Nelson as Statler). Briefly frightened, Scrooge gets it together long enough to get himself inside. As he sits down to some soup before his meager fireplace, he is interrupted by the spirits of both partners, brothers Jacob and Robert (Goelz as Waldorf). They are there to tell him he needs to get his head on straight and stiop treating other people like garbage. And to tell him that, in order to help him along a different path, he will be visited by three spirits that will show him the error of his ways. Scrooge is not keen on the idea, but he has no choice.

It's either that, or deal with Robert's weird-looking "area".
The first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past (voice by Jessica Fox), takes Scrooge back in time to see his lonely childhood in a stuffy boarding school run by Sam the Eagle (Oz). Years pass, and he is taken to his first job, working for Fozzywig (also Oz, but as Fozzy Bear), and the party where Scrooge first met Belle (Meredith Braun), the love of his life. But just as he's getting cheerful and reminiscent, the Ghost of Christmas Past slaps him down by showing him walking away from what would have probably been a great, long-lasting relationship, had he not been so fixated on money. then she sends him home.

If old me and young me both sleep with her, does it still count as a threesome?
The next ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present (voice by Nelson, performance by Don Austen), is large, loud, and relentlessly cheerful. After a brief musical number (more on this later), the ghost takes Scrooge to see what a piece of shit everyone thinks he is.

First, they go see his nephew Fred, whose wife, Clara (Robin Weaver), says mean things about Scrooge, encouraging the others to do the same. Saddened that his only remaining family hates him, he begs the ghost to take him somewhere more cheerful and full of love, so it's off to the Cratchit household, where opinions of Scrooge are not much better. Although, in Bob's defense, he does insist on saying something nice about his boss because it's Christmas. Emily reluctantly agrees and toasts Scrooge, but Scrooge is more concerned about Tim. Before much can be said about him, the ghost tells Scrooge he is a cheap, miserly garbage person, and then leaves him with the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come, who looks like a cross between a Dementer and a discarded foreskin. But what will he show Scrooge?

You are horrible, Ebenezer, and these animals will feast on your corpse!
And will whatever Scrooge sees convince him to change his ways? And what about Tiny Tim? Will he survive to dance on the graves of those who doubted him? Or will it all go to shit and turn even more into a Victorian dystopia? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek refuses to admit there is even the possibility of this movie having any sort of flaws. He does have theories about what all of this is, however. Maybe it is a hallucination brought on by consumption of illicit (but, at the time, legal) substances, and Scrooge is the only one seeing this happen, while outsiders see a crazy old man, naked and masturbating in the streets while they try to enjoy their Christmas dinners.

Jake liked it, but not as much as Derek. And he has a different theory, as well, choosing instead to believe the entire encounter with the ghosts is perhaps the twisted dreams and thoughts of a man in the last few seconds of his life, brought to a (barely) premature end by his own hand. Sort of like Jacob's Ladder crossed with The Room, but with less jerking-off after shooting himself. Some jerking-off, sure. But not, like, a ton of it.

So put on some upsetting plaid pants and your favorite holiday top hat, and listen to this week Holiday Moviepalooza episode!

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