LAMBracket: Best Christmas Movie – Play-Off #7

by Jay Cluitt · December 7, 2018 · Featured, LAMBracket, LAMBracket Christmas, Periodic Features · No Comments

From December 1st until Christmas Eve, here on the LAMB, we’ll be determining what is the BEST Christmas movie of all time. We’ve asked you all which films are the main contenders, and twenty-four of you replied with your choices, which will bauble battle it out for seasonal supremacy. It’s a head-to-head, single elimination tournament, so whichever film wins today moves onto the next round. However, here is not the only place to vote. No, head to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the same poll there, and it’ll be the total of all four results that determines the winner.

Today’s tinsel tussle is the only one from the Dickens sub-group, as two very different adaptations of the same novel go head to head in a hostility of humbugs, it’s Scrooged vs The Muppet Christmas Carol:

Scrooged vs The Muppet Christmas Carol

Scrooged, championed by Robert Zerbe from To The Escape Hatch

If I could only watch one Christmas movie a year for the rest of my life, I would want it to be Scrooged. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, maybe it’s the ’80s vibe, maybe it’s the Bill Murray Bump. But I absolutely love it. My Christmas isn’t complete without it.

Murray, as Frank Cross, the film’s modern day Scrooge, has completely lost touch with humanity. But something happens to Frank. Several encounters with Christmas ghosts show him how he used to be before becoming a scumbag, how his selfishness affects others, and what’s in store for him if he doesn’t change his ways. He turns in one of his best performances, and a creepy vibe throughout coupled with the feel-good ending make it the greatest Christmas classic of all time. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol, championed by Richard Kirkham from Kirkham A Movie A Day

If you are not considering The Muppet Christmas Carol as your choice for the best Christmas movie of all time, you must not have seen the film. Not only is it a great Christmas film, it is in many ways, the greatest telling of one of the most important Christmas themed stories of all time. Charles Dickens’ story has been filmed more than two dozen times, with distinguished Shakespearean actors and American Television Thespians. None of them can hold a candle to this version which succeeds because of two fantastic features. First, look at the title, “Muppets”. I have heard that there are people who do not appreciate The Muppets, I don’t want to know who those people are. The off kilter humor, the manic and deadpan delivery in the same scene, the plethora of weird characters are all things that make even the most mundane material watchable. Kermit the Frog is perfectly cast as Bob Cratchitt. Miss Piggy is surprisingly subdued as his wife and the mother of Tiny Tim. Meanwhile, subverting the proceedings by drawing attention to the narrative explicitly, Gonzo and Rizzo Rat are a Greek Chorus representing Dickens himself. You can’t beat that for creative story structure on this particular tale.

Muppets alone would be enough to elevate this to the status of Christmas classic, but there’s one other secret weapon here that should overwhelm any other objections, Michael Caine. In most versions of the story, Scrooge is ancient and closer to the end of life. Caine is closer to middle age, which means his arc of redemption will span the life of the Cratchit family more. Caine plays crotchety without being particularly old.We can accept that he has an old man disposition with a younger man’s vigor. He also sings. Maybe not the dulcet baritone that would be featured in a stage version of the story, but he has a “talk-singing” style that works perfectly for the amusing Paul Williams penned songs.

“Oh, Scroogey loves his money ’cause he thinks it gives him power,
If he became a flavor you can bet he would be sour “

Which is the better Christmas movie?


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