A Chradvent Carolendar: FINALE

Merry Chrimbus everyone.

Advent may have finished yesterday but Chradvent, my friends, has only just begun. Every day for the last 24 days I have watched and written up a different adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol. So demanding was this stupid, pointless waste of time project that I had to structure my entire month around it. As of yesterday, I have written 34,244 words, much higher than A Christmas Carol’s paltry 28,000. Of course, a picture’s worth a thousand words so with 29 hours and 9 minutes worth of film watched at 24 frames a second that’s 2,518,594,244 words, making Chradvent the single longest work in all human literature.

Picking the 24 films I’d watch out of the literally hundreds of other adaptations was no easy task. I knew I wanted Scrooged, Muppets, Blackadder and Albert Finney but I did not go in expecting the second straight-to-VHS sequel to All Dogs Go To Heaven or whatever the fuck this was. I’ve had everything from A Christmas Carol to A Carol Christmas. Very sad to have missed Christmas! A Carol, Christmas Carol-a and Carola Christmas (feat Adam Carola).

I am now more intimately familiar with the story of A Christmas Carol than any human being on this earth deserves to be. I will never watch it again. But there falls to me one remaining task; to correctly identify which is Superior.

Before we jump into that, I’d like to go over some data. I have been timing my average working day and would like to share with you my schedule and what I mean by “having to structure my month around Chradvent”.

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On average, on a day when I’m not working (weekends) I’ll sleep for about 10 hours until the early afternoon then wake up and start editing the Chradvent post I wrote the night before that will be published this afternoon at 4pm. A couple of hours to live and eat and get dressed and live and live my life and be alive and then I watch the film, sometimes sped up and sometimes very slowly over the course of several hours. Then I’ll crack on and write between 650 and 2700 words over the next 2 to 8 hours. Everything else will be squeezed into those green segments, including washing, cooking, shopping, eating and other tasks connected with being alive such as breathing deeply through my mouth.

On a day where I am working, this changes dramatically.

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There’s no time to edit for tomorrow because it’ll be up before I can get home to edit it, so I have to edit immediately before going to sleep. There’s no time to cut anything else out of my working day so I have to reduce my sleeping hours from a healthy 10/ 13 to a paltry 7. Who can live like that? To save time I’ll often eat while watching the Chradvent film but this proves difficult with some of the more disgusting looking ones like 2000 or 2009. It’s also difficult to eat while dying Japanese children are suffering on screen. The trick is to start eating only when the Turkey appears at the end. You can try it when Scrooge is eating his gruel/ bread and cheese but you get one bite into a sandwich then a bloody ghost appears.

These graphs are averages of course; some days, like with Ms Scrooge, I’ll spend maybe an hour or two writing but some, like An American Carol, will take over 10. I mentioned in Patrick Stewart’s entry that I had to turn down work to do Chradvent and while this is partially true, my schedule was organised enough for it to not be too much of an issue. The first and last priority was with Chradvent though, as it should be.

One thing I have not touched upon in my reviews but will mention now and then hopefully forget forever is how much Dickens loved puns. Every single one of these Chradvent films has avoided them, save maybe the grave/gravy line, but he makes them constantly. In the last but one sentence in the book, Dickens says:

“[Scrooge] had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards.”

The Total Abstinence Principle as in, not drinking spirits. So fucking lame. Turns out the worst adaptation of A Christmas Carol was the original A Christmas Carol.

Before we get into the murky realms of ratings and Superiority, I’d like to give some special commendations to the runners up. These are the completely arbitrary but also totally objectively correct Benjamin Alborough Awards For Outstanding Contribution To Chradvent.

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Most Faithful Adaptation

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

2009 with Jim Carrey

1939 with Orson Welles

1999 with Patrick Stewart

1971 animated by Richard Williams

And the winner is…

1971 animated by Richard Williams

An award for animation there, having an advantage over the rest for actually being able to show ghosts doing ghost things. Zemeckis’ CGI fuckfest comes closest, weirdly enough, but odd comic moments from Jim Carrey completely ruins it.

Most Fun

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

The Muppet Christmas Carol

1970 with Albert Finney

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

And the winner is…

The Muppet Christmas Carol

1970 is fun but a bit too dark, Mickey’s is too short and Blackadder’s is the best written but ultimately an original sitcom episode. Muppet has the great musical elements of 1970 and the calculated wit of Blackadder. It wipes the slate with them.

Most Pathetic Tiny Tim

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Mary Lou Retten as a backflipping Tiny Tim in Scrooged

Awkward “God Bless Us” from 1949 with Vincent Price

Tiny Tim Who Never Looks Into The Camera from 1954 with Basil Rathbone

Truman Capote

The Tiny Tim who has a “Slow Growing Congential Tumour” from Ms Scrooge

And the winner is…

The Tiny Tim who has a “Slow Growing Congential Tumour” from Ms Scrooge

There is not even a question here.

Best Candle on a Little Plate

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

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And the winner is…

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This is just one of those things that animation can do so much better than live action.

Chirpiest “Why Sir”

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

“Why Sir” from 1951

“Why, Sir!” from 1970

“Why! Sir?” from 1984

And the winner is…

“Why Sir” from 1951″

Most Shittest Version of The First Noel

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Tuneless garbage in 1935

Pre-Orson filler in 1939

Off-screen hijinks in 1949

Screenwriter Noel Langley in 1951

And the winner is…

Screenwriter Noel Langley in 1951

In addition to not being totally shitty unlistenable garbage, Noel Langley wrote one of the better screenplays of Chradvent. I’m just glad he wasn’t the second or third Noel in the crew, otherwise he’d be conpletely ineligable.

Best Impression of W. C. Fields

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Rich Little, Rich Little’s Christmas Carol, 1979

And the winner is…

Nominations Re-opened

Best Liz Smith Character

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Mrs Dilber, 1984

Mrs Dilber, 1999

Joyce, 2000

And the winner is…

Us all, for Liz Smith’s presence in our lives.

I wish she’d played Ms Scrooge.

Scrooge Most Oblivious to the Fact that he Dies in the Future

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. There aren’t any nominees because the obvious winner is 2004 with Kelsey Grammer.

Actor Who Should Never Have Been in A Christmas Carol

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Dom DeLuise as Itchy in An All Dogs Christmas Carol

Gary Coleman as himself in A Carol Christmas, An American Carol and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Whoever the fuck played Fred in the 1954 version

Rich Little

And the winner is…

Unquestionably Rich Little

Actor Who Has Most Inexplicably Not Played Scrooge

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Ian McKellen

Ian McDiarmid

Ian Richardson

And the winner is…

Ian Paisley

Poorest Attempt to Modernise an Element of the Story

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Warning us of Nuclear Power by showing half dead Japanese children, 1964

Making it a pro-warcrime conservative comedy, An American Carol

Muppets

Genderswapped, raceswapped, Ms Scrooge

Gangs and the estate, 2000 with Ross Kemp

And the winner is…

Making it a pro-warcrime conservative comedy, An American Carol

Fucking stupid idea.

Smallest Hat

It’s been a great month and this decision has never been tougher. We’ve seen some wonderful stuff from all the nominees and whatever the results are, we know that they’ll all go on with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart. Here are the nominees:

Fourth man from the back on the left in Christmas Day parade, 1951

 Asian man in product placement Tab advert in Scrooged

Bam-Bam’s from Flintstones (possibly a smudge on the animation cel)

Hat as described on radio by Orson Welles “It was a tiny, ugly hat that Scrooge wore with a dark frown”.

And the winner is…

All of them! (Hats exactly same size within margin of 0.1mm)


Enough of that, they were all rigged anyway. 

We’re almost there, folks. Soon I shall reveal what is the Superior adaptation of A Christmas Carol, now being the foremost expert on the matter in all of the world. But first, for those who don’t have the time to go back and read all of Chradvent, let’s remind ourselves of what we’ve watched so far:

Scrooge (1935)

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Sir Seymour Hicks is Scrooge in our first outing. It’s low budget to the point where they had Hicks just point at where the ghost was meant to be instead of doing any special effects. Charming, creepy but ultimately mediocre. 5.5/10

A Christmas Carol (1939)

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Orson Welles bellows his way through the only radio version on this list. This is quite a difficult story to do on radio as you need to rely heavily on description and one hour simply isn’t long enough to convey Dickens in words alone. Ads for Campbell’s soup lift it, though. 6.5/10

The Christmas Carol (1949)

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Bad acting, bad direction and simply terrible production design make this a so-bad-it’s-funny-Christmas-Carol. Vincent Price is barely used and there are typos everywhere. Ebenezer Scrooge is twice referred to as Ebeneezer Scrooge. 3/10

Scrooge (1951)

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Alastair Sim is Scrooge in this masterpiece made at the height of the British film industry. His Scrooge is a real human being who is politically motivated to greed rather than being a comic book miser. We learn more about his family and explore his dark past. Works as its own film independently of the story it’s adapting. Beautifully shot and directed. 9/10

A Christmas Carol (Shower of Stars) (1954)

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Fucking weird garbage that’s ostensibly a musical but only features about three songs all clumped together either side of a 5 minute advert for Chrysler. No-one involved had any understanding of the characters and the man who played Fred delivers maybe one of my least favourite performances in anything of all time. 3/10

A Carol For Another Christmas (1964)

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A dark, contemporary adaptation commissioned by the UN to educate the American populous on its work. It’s cleverly written, well shot and brilliantly acted but is very didactic and incredibly depressing to watch. At one point we see footage of Japanese children who’ve had their faces blown off by the Bomb. It doesn’t have a real ending but it is probably one of the few ones on this list that I would consider coming back to if I hadn’t vowed never to watch any of these ever again. 7/10

Scrooge (1970)

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Musical fun with Albert Finney as Scrooge and Alec Guinness as Marley. His Scrooge is far more camp than the usual outing but this fits perfectly for the genre. The songs are all great. It’s a bit too dark for a family film and it plays fast and loose with the ending but I’d happily recommend this version for someone wanting to get into the story. 7.5/10

A Christmas Carol (1971)

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Richard Williams is a superb animator and this is a far better animated film than it is an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Despite being 25 minutes long it’s the most faithful to the original story out of all of them but that is not enough to elevate it to the lofty realms of Superiority. Transliterating the story to film is not enough. It achieved its goals in representing the characters beautifully on screen enough but it is simply not a good enough film in its own right to place it alongside versions like 1951. 6/10

Rich Little’s Christmas Carol (1979)

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I had a mini burnout after this one. It’s just some guy using A Christmas Carol as an excuse to do a bunch of shitty impressions on network television. It’s so cynical it makes my joints ache. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is an impression of Inspector Clouseau. 0.5/10

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

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Scrooge McDuck stretches into the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in another 25 minute long animated subject. It was fine; well animated but nothing special. Kept expecting there to be an ironic Disney twist but there never was. 6.5/10

A Christmas Carol (1984)

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George C. Scott acts the fuck out of Scrooge in this brilliant made for TV movie. Really cool special effects, great character moments and amazing supporting performances from people like Edward Woodward elevates this above the rest. You can tell Scott was going for a similar Scrooge as Alastair Sim. 8.5/10

Scrooged (1988)

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Bill Murray gives a canned performance as a modern Scrooge who sits at the head of a television company. Lazy, boring humour, weird interpretations of the plot and a confused, stupid ending are not balanced out by a proto-Charlie Kelly Bobcat Goldthwaite and cool 80s special effects. 5/10

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)

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Rowan Atkinson reveals himself to be a twink in this sitcom Christmas special that plays fast and loose with the original story. I have seen this version more times than I can count so am heavily biased and, in retrospect, there is almost no way I can justify giving this a higher score than Richard Williams version. But, despite my opinion being completely subjective the scores are objective fact and Blackadder’s Christmas Carol gets 7.5/10

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

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Michael Caine gives a surprisingly emotionally available performance as Scrooge in the version with which most people are familiar. This film being described as “the best adaptation” was one of the reasons that I did Chradvent. “How could anyone ever really be sure?”. The Muppet version is a fun family romp that sticks closely to the original story without getting too dark. The emotional beats are consistent and work even with lots of crazy Muppet action going on in the background. 8/10

A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)

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Fred Flintstone plays Scrooge in the Bedrock Community Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol. This is an incredibly confused version and I’m not sure why they chose to make it the way that they did. It sucked. 3/10

Ms Scrooge (1997)

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A disappointingly unmemorable race and genderswapped version of the story only notable for formally diagnosing Tiny Tim with a “slow growing congenital tumour”. Looks and feels flat and boring. 4/10

An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)

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Direct to VHS sequel to All Dogs Go To Heaven. Badly animated, stupidly written and really, really unfunny. If you want to know what it’s like to watch this, imagine having a fatal brain hemorrhage. 2/5/10

A Christmas Carol (1999)

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Patrick Stewart gives a strong performance as Scrooge backed up by an equally strong Richard E Grant as Bob Cratchit. Sadly, they cannot elevate this boring, tired, uninnovative production of A Christmas Carol above mediocrity. Early signs of promises are quickly extinguished by shitty supporting actors, bad direction and poor special effects. It was the late 90s, they had no excuse. 6/10

A Christmas Carol (2000)

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Ross Kemp is a fucking geezer playing Eddie Scrooge, a fucking loan shark on a fucking East London estate. It plays around with the conventions of the story enough for it to be at least interesting but it’s far too poorly executed to be of any value. 4/10

A Carol Christmas (2003)

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Another version where, instead of being a Victorian businessman, Scrooge works in television. They really tried to innovate in this one and mix up some of the plot elements to make more sense in a modern context but the vision was not strong enough to elevate it above being another mediocre Hallmark channel original movie. I don’t really know why it exists. 3.5/10

A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)

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Forgettable songs from the otherwise brilliant Alan Menken and a Kelsey Grammer Scrooge who we never really get to know prevent this film from really achieving anything. It’s basically a stage play that they shot and edited together and I’d be very interested to see it live, where I think it could have the potential to be really, really good. But not as a film. 3.5/10

An American Carol (2008)

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An insidiously evil actively pro-war crimes film from one of the minds behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Michael Malone, a crude parody of Michael Moore, is re-educated on the values of American paleoconservatism. It’s cruel, ignorant and desperately unfunny. -1/10

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2008)

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I don’t really know enough about Rom-Coms to make a proper value judgement on this as a one, but as an adaptation of A Christmas Carol it serves its own needs. It’s fairly poor and probably misogynistic. Those women sure do like to have sex with Matthew McConaughey. 3.5/10

A Christmas Carol (2009)

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Hideously ugly not-quite-realistic-but-not-quite-stylised motion capture 3D all-CGI Jim Carrey multiroling adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Hits all the right beats with some nice visual flourishes but, for the most part, all the flashy imagery gets in the way. 4.5/10


For those of you who don’t have time to either go back and read all of Chradvent or read my summary of it above, I’ve broken it down even further for you, into three defining words per film.

Scrooge (1935)
Ghost pointing time

A Christmas Carol (1939)
Orson loves soup

The Christmas Carol (1949)
Vincent Price? Who?

Scrooge (1951)
Fucking excellent shit

A Christmas Carol (Shower of Stars) (1954)
Everybody Hates Fred

A Carol For Another Christmas (1964)
Nuclear holocaust, kids!

Scrooge (1970)
Jodorovsky’s Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol (1971)
Beautiful but boring

Rich Little’s Christmas Carol (1979)
Pointless fucking garbage

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Standard Disney fluff

A Christmas Carol (1984)
Powerful Men Acting

Scrooged (1988)
Oh, Bill Murray.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
Humbug, Mr Baldrick?

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Good clean fun

A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)
Yabba Dabba Why

Ms Scrooge (1997)
Slow Growing Congenital

An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)
I got nothing

A Christmas Carol (1999)
Patrick Stewart’s good?

A Christmas Carol (2000)
Apples and pears

A Carol Christmas (2003)
Gary Coleman? Shatner?!

A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)
Hello Kelsey Grammer

An American Carol (2008)
Goodbye Kelsey Grammer

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2008)
Matthew McConaughey FUCKS

A Christmas Carol (2009)
A Computer Carol

And for those of you who don’t have time to either go back and read all of Chradvent or read my summary of it further above or read my reduced summary of it adjacent, I’ve broken it down even further for you, into a single word per film.

Scrooge (1935)
Creepy

A Christmas Carol (1939)
Soup

The Christmas Carol (1949)
Stupid

Scrooge (1951)
Nice

A Christmas Carol (Shower of Stars) (1954)
Kill

A Carol For Another Christmas (1964)
Gun

Scrooge (1970)
Hell

A Christmas Carol (1971)
Busy

Rich Little’s Christmas Carol (1979)
Cum

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Normal

A Christmas Carol (1984)
Strong

Scrooged (1988)
Indulgent

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
Silly

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Fun

A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)
Confused

Ms Scrooge (1997)
Disappointing

An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)
Hell

A Christmas Carol (1999)
Bald

A Christmas Carol (2000)
Fucking

A Carol Christmas (2003)
Freaks

A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)
Who?

An American Carol (2008)
Jingo

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2008)
FUCKS

A Christmas Carol (2009)
uuugly


There, that’ll save you about 35,000 words.

A note about ratings: my ratings, despite being totally objectively correct, are entirely arbitrary and subjective. They are no real indication of how good a film is but they will tell you with 100% confidence how good a film is. They take into account a number of factors but mostly it’s just holistic enjoyment on my part. Let’s look at them:

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See if you can spot Rich Little and An American Carol.

Things we can extrapolate from this graph:

  1. There was the most variance in quality between 1935 and 1980
  2. The films stabilised in quality around the 80s
  3. Adaptations from the mid 90s onwards have not worked
  4. The best adaptations are ones that work in their own right as a film first and are adaptations second

Maybe it is the 30 year nostalgia cycle come around to haunt me, maybe the films made in the 80s were better, maybe having those films in the back of my mind as I watched the rest led me to make unfair comparisons. We will never truly know the answers to these questions. 

As such, is there such a thing as a Superior version? There are a lot of good versions, 1951, 1970, 1984 and Muppets being the strongest contenders. Muppets holds very dear to many peoples hearts so, despite being not as good a film as 1951 with Alastair Sim, maybe that is the Superior version.

The message of A Christmas Carol is one of family, generosity and charity. As I type this, at half past midnight on Christmas morning, I reflect back on my time over Chradvent and the horrible horrible complications it has brought to my daily routine and think to myself: maybe what makes an adaptation the most Superior is not snazzy lighting or one particularly strong performance or even a carefully constructed impression of Inspector Clouseau. Maybe what makes an adaptation Superior is a deep and profound emotional connection to our own childhood Christmases.

 

In another, more accurate, way Scrooge (1951) is Superior.

A Chradvent Carolendar #24: A Christmas Carol (2009)

Prominent anti-vaxxer and comedian Jim Carrey plays the most hideous Ebenezer Scrooge yet in Robert Zemeckis’ 2009 CGI fucksterpiece.

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Look at this not quite stylised but not quite realistic mess. We skip the opening narration in favour of a scene where Scrooge signs Marley’s death certificate. They make such a fucking deal out of Scrooge tipping the undertaker that it physically pains him. And me.

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You look at these two and tell me it doesn’t look like a shitty PS2 cutscene. 

Boom! Sweeping CGI shots of London!

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Get used to those.

Some callbacks to the 1935 version (!!!) with the mayor’s feast and the children outside begging for scraps.

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This was the first 3D film I ever saw in the cinema (Avatar completely passed me by) and the film continually reminds us that with a series of gratuitous shots that will never, ever be seen in 3D again by anyone.

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Gratuitous is probably a word I’m going to be coming a back to a lot today as there is no better way to convey now needlessly bloated this all is. It’s actually quite faithful to the Dickens – it might be one of the most faithful so far – but pointless CGI action chase sequences and indulgent performances from Jim Carrey make it basically worthless as an adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

Bob looks SO UGLY. And why is he SO SMALL?2009xg

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Either go highly stylised or ultra realistic. Make up your mind! Anything inbetween is gonna look garbage. Did Polar Express have this same problem? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. Sound off in the comments.

Fred is played by Colin Firth. He looks like Colin Firth in a way that just meets the benchmark for “unsettling”.

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Scrooge heads off home to his mansion.

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Why does Scrooge choose to live alone in a huge house? Surely a miser wouldn’t want to pay a cleaning lady when he could be living in a smaller place and do it himself. Some versions explain this away by saying that he inherited it from Marley but, even then, a good businessman would’ve sold it on. What need has he for it? It must cost a fortune in heating. 

In versions where he’s not a miser and just ideologically predisposed to hate giving money away this is fine; but here it is not. 

We don’t get a knob transition. Just a cut away and cut back. Interesting decision for a cartoon where there are limitless possibilities but I like how it’s underplayed. They blew their wad on the rest of the ghosts I guess.

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There is a place for CGI in this story. The ghosts are an obvious choice, but making a comedy scene out of Marley using his hand to make his chin flap up and down isn’t one of them. It’s like the film has to constantly justify itself as a cartoon. “We can” doesn’t mean “we should”. This whole scene plays out like something out of Resident Evil.

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Let’s talk a bit about Jim Carrey. Jim plays all three of the ghosts AND Scrooge through motion capture and voice. You can see his face is literally just superimposed over a lit candle for the Ghost of Christmas Past whom he gives a Northern Irish accent. Jim Carrey is a comedian, not an actor, a good comedian, but a few films aside doesn’t really change that. This is going to sound incredibly wanky and drama school-y but he’s not playing Scrooge for truth, he’s playing him for laughs and as a result the performance suffers. Remember when Michael Caine said he wanted to play Scrooge totally straight as if there were no muppets around him at all? The spirit here does a weird little shuffle back and forth here which is very out of character and was clearly just Carrey messing around in front of the green screen. 

Carrey has described the film as “a classical version of A Christmas Carol […] There are a lot of vocal things, a lot of physical things, I have to do. Not to mention doing the accents properly, the English, Irish accents […] I want it to fly in the UK. I want it to be good and I want them to go, ‘Yeah, that’s for real.’ We were very true to the book. It’s beautiful. It’s an incredible film.”

I’m sorry, Jim. Scrooge is a slight variation on your Count Olaf, Past is just a whispery Northern Irish accent and Present is… well…

Another zoomy scene on their way Back to the Past.

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Why is Fan so small? Why does everyone look like a potato?

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The same actress who plays Fan, Robin Wright, also plays Belle because why would you need to cast two female actors?

Scrooge tries to extinguish the spirit with his cap as he does in the book but is blasted off into space like a rocket!2009xm.png

You have verbatim extracts from the book followed by shit like this. I’m reminded of That Classic Simpsons Quote:

“So, you want a realistic, down-to-Earth show, that’s completely off the wall and swarming with magic robots?”

“Yes” ~ Robert Zemeckis (presumably) (not appearing in The Simpsons)

The Ghost of Christmas Present is another Jim Carrey motion capture with a bad northern accent that’s also a bit Scottish.

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Things that this film does that I like #1: Present shows Scrooge visions by moving the floor around London and making furniture fly across the room.

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Why is Martha Cratchit so huge?

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 The more I watch the more I realise it might be one of the ugliest animated movies I’ve ever seen, though it still doesn’t hold a candle to Foodfight!.

Oh, we’re doing Ignorance and Want here? Ok.

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Their reveal is instantly ruined by one of them saying “naff off” in the most cockney accent imaginable.

Present dies needlessly dramatically here. He grips his chest, falls to the ground and laughs as his corpse turns grey, then white, then all his flesh is stripped off. 

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Meanwhile, Ignorance and Want go crazy, aging up instantly and assaulting Scrooge, throwing his “are there no prisons? are there no workhouses” line back in his face as the camera swings around him wildly.

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It’s all frenetic and pointless and needlessly excessive. This is The Phantom Menace of A Christmas Carol. It’s so obsessed with showing off what it can do it completely neglects all the reasons why it should want to be doing it in the first place.

The Future ghost is the most headache inducing extreme of this. He starts off quietly, as Scrooge’s shadow, occasionally pointing at things. But then we get a full action scene where Scrooge is chased by a wild CGI hearse, catches and rolls a barrel on his feet, shrinks down and climbs through a sewer pipe, is sent flying on a whiskey bottle at max speed across the street, slides down a drain and rides an icicle straight into Old Joe’s, where we meet these Eldritch horrors. 

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No time for talk! Scrooge and a nearby rat are attacked with a hammer. Old Joe uproots his floors as both cackle in glee.

This is the only adaptation where we see the young couple grateful that Scrooge died so they don’t have to repay their debts. 

Things that this film does that I like #2: The Future ghost slowly reveals Scrooge’s name and death date on the gravestone in time with the music. It’s very tense, even if the rest of the scene is over complicated with way too much CGI action nonsense.

Scrooge wakes up redemption blah blah blah. The only things to note here are that Scrooge sends both the poultrer AND the boy outside his window off to deliver the turkey to the Cratchits. Why? That poor boy doesn’t live anywhere near Camden Town.

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Scrooge goes to Fred’s house for dinner and nervously waits outside. He comes in the second his name is about to be revealed as part of Fred’s mean party game. Nice touch. Thing I like #3.

Then it’s the end. After being given a raise, Bob Cratchit turns to the camera and starts narrating. 

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Far more terrifying than any spirit.

Faithful to the original in content, but so, so weak in execution. A huge budgeted Disney animated film could’ve done so much with A Christmas Carol but it’s uncanny valley effect and weird, out of place humour makes it a really unsettling watch. 

4 1/2 completely underused Colin Firths out of 10


Well my lovelies, we did it. I made it through the month without dying (superficially). Advent may be over, but Chradvent is not. Chradvent will return once more tomorrow for a big finale as… A Chrischradvent Carolenday*.

*raincheck on the name

A Chradvent Carolendar #23: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

Matthew McConaughey is Connor Mead, a sleazy glamour photographer with whom women love to have sex. Scantily clad models come up to him and ask him for dinner (sorry ladies, too busy), he breaks up with three women simultaneously on conference call and a musician whose photo he’s taking falls in love with him because he negged her.

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When introduced:

“I’m not 12 years old and tone deaf so I don’t like your music but I really dig your look.”

Then 5 minutes later, when passionately making out:

“Just listen to my music. I am more than I look. I am.”

“Sweetie you are already gorgeous. Why do you need to be good at two things, huh?”

“You’re the biggest jerk ever. In fact you’re even famous for it. Now really, why am I doing this?”

“Usually has something to do with your father.”

“Oh please. I’ve never even met my father.”

“Well come to papa.”

Now I appreciate that I may not be the target audience for this, but is Matthew McConaughey’s character meant to be attractive? Women seem to fawn over him but to me he just comes off as a Sex Criminal. Obviously Matthew McConaughey is our Scrooge and will be fixed by the end of the movie but, apart from occasional eye rolling, his lifestyle is consistently glamourised. This film was written and directed by men, of course.

He heads off to his brother’s wedding rehearsal. He offers his brother the keys to his car so he can fuck if he wants to.2009b.png

Matthew McConaughey’s already slept with two of the three bridesmaids but don’t worry, they all still want to have sex with him. Phew!

Also present, as the maid of honour, is Jenny Perotti, an old friend of the family. But there is some romantic tension between her and Matthew McConaughey. Watch out!

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Everything is set up for this to be a fairly middle of the road, £3 in HMV American rom-com. We have a reliable set of stock characters; a playboy who doesn’t believe in love, a bridezilla, a militarist father-in-law, a horny mother-in-law and a couple of wacky nerd sidekicks.

After some more flirting/ harassment, Matthew McConaughey heads to the gents where he meets Marley’s ghost; his Uncle Wayne, a Hugh Hefner type played by Michael Douglas who claims he invented the word “MILF”.

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He warns Matthew McConaughey he’ll be haunted and promptly fucks off. In a daze, Matthew McConaughey stumbles out of the restrooms and sees a mysterious woman at the bar. She must be the first ghost! He does what anyone would do in this situation, and immediately grabs her boob.

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Oh no! It was the mother in law! Don’t worry, she’s fine about it though. He immediately propositions her for sex. She says no but don’t worry, it’s all cool. Then the bridesmaid who he hasn’t yet had sex with comes over and Matthew McConaughey propositions her for sex and she says “yeah!” but then he asks her if she was the bridesmaid that his brother slept with and suddenly she’s all serious:

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But then she forgets because she gets to have sex with Matthew McConaughey.

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Heading up to his hotel room, Matthew McConaughey sees someone writhing under the sheets. Expecting the bridesmaid, he pulls off the covers only to reveal

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A pre-Zombieland, post-Superbad Emma Stone! It’s the girl he lost his virginity to! (They were the same age at the time.) She announces herself as the Ghost of Girlfriends Past (it’s the title!). She’s also totally wacky. They take the Bedknobs and Broomsticks bed back in time and you can tell it’s the 80s because they’re playing Safety Dance.

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Young Matthew McConaughey is an incel who gets cucked so badly that he makes a faustian pact with his Uncle Wayne because he “never want[s] to feel like this again, ever.” The most responsible way to deal with this is, of course, to take your 16 year old nephew to a sleazy dive bar and teach him actual techniques used by real life MRAs.

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“The power in a relationship lies with whoever cares less.”

Now we’re at a party where a freshly red pilled Young Matthew McConaughey snubs Jenny to have sex with Emma Stone. He looks like all members of Duran Duran simultaneously.

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We skip forward in time to when Matthew McConaughey has fucking stupid mid 90s hair. He meets Jenny after many years and immediately propositions her for sex. She loves this and we get loads of scenes of him slowly courting her, the One girl who is Different, which culminates in sex. The sex makes him realise he’s in love with her so he leaves her so he can have more sex.

Back in the present now, Matthew McConaughey desperately needs a drink. In his rush, he accidentally knocks a supporting column out of the wedding cake. Uh oh!

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If only… he could… reach the wine bottle… could… fix… cake….

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Oops!

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Matthew McConaughey runs out of the house but aha! Who’s in his car?

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Oh yeah, I didn’t mention – that’s our Bob Cratchit. I think her name’s Mel but she doesn’t get much screen time. Why would you be here? asks Matthew McConaughey. We’ve never slept together. Matthew McConaughey tells her he thought she was gay. Nice to know that even though he’s an habitual sex pest he respects the boundaries of female sexuality.

Bob takes us back into the hotel (Matthew McConaughey is now invisible) and we see everyone badmouthing him in a Fred’s party game situation. Third Chradvent film in a row with Gary Coleman, as it is revealed one of the bridesmaids slept with him at Lollapalooza. “He had such delicate hands.”

Michael Douglas is back! I guess Bob is gone. 

“These are all the lady tears that have been shed for you in your life.”

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“And these are the tissues they used to dry those tears.”

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He then gets pelted with all the condoms he used and that’s the end of the Ghost of Girlfriends Present.

Brief sojourn back to the party where we find out that the marriage has been called off because the bride found out that Matthew McConaughey’s brother slept with one of the bridesmaids.

The future ghost then:

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We don’t ever find out who she is or if she has any relevance to Matthew McConaughey.

The terrifying visions of the future we get are:

+Jenny is married to someone she met at the wedding
+Matthew McConaughey’s brother never got married and lived a life of misery
+His brother is the only one who comes to Matthew McConaughey’s funeral, though it is implied he lived to an old age.

I realise at this point: no Tiny Tim. Is this the only film of Chradvent to not feature Tiny Tim at all? I think it might be.

Matthew McConaughey gets fucking buried alive and vows to reform his evil ways.

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Funny moment as a newly redeemed Matthew McConaughey opens a window and says to a boy outside: 

“You there, boy, what day is it, Christmas?”

“No, it’s Saturday you moron.”

…I’ll take anything at this point.

He rushes after the bride and bridesmaids, who are being driven away by her father. He rams his Uncle’s car into their SUV and punches the father-in-law in the face.

He then begs her to call the wedding on again saying, and I quote:

“He cheated? Get over it. It was years ago. With some slutty friend of yours.”

Anyway, it works and the wedding is back on. The bride and groom get married and in his Best Man’s speech, Matthew McConaughey says that yes, while power in a relationship may lie with the one who care less, happiness does not. I guess that’s the message of the film. Also him and Jenny get together. The last shot of the film is Michael Douglas assaulting a 16 year old child.

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I feel like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past attempts to make the main character an unappealing misogynist who is also appealing and then reforms but sort of doesn’t. I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about what makes a good rom com to make a value judgement about this film. I can, however, judge it as an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. And I shall.

3 1/2 instantly forgettable characters out of 10


I’ve almost completely run out of things to say about A Christmas Carol by now. I felt at times I was just describing the plot because every comparison of note has been made in a more day of Chradvent. At least I’m almost done… or am I….

A Chradvent Carolendar #22: An American Carol (2008)

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An American Carol might be the most insidiously evil film I have ever seen. Written and Directed by David Zucker – one of the three behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun – An American Carol is a conspiracy theory piece that just falls short of blaming the Rothschilds. It is not only pro-war but pro-war crimes. How one man can descend so far from greatness should be a Jacob Marley-like warning to the rest of us. The film flopped massively and David Zucker doesn’t make films any more.

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This is the opening shot:

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This is a parody, right? Wrong.

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Ah, Leslie Nielsen. A very good actor and a veteran of these kind of films but also, probably, sadly, an elderly racist. He’s barely in this anyway. He plays the grandfather of these children but he also plays an actor playing Osama Bin Laden at one point.

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This is not really the kind of film you can pick apart that much. Whatever happens happens and you have to accept it. Consistency was not its aim and as such I shall have to judge it by the quality of its satire and its gags, both of which are exceptionally poor. I’ll also add, considering these films are basically a delivery mechanisms for gags, there aren’t really that many.

Leslie Nielsen tells the assembled kids a story, much like Annabelle in An All Dogs Christmas Carol. The story is the story of Scrooge. Scrooge? The kids say. No no, not that Scrooge. This Scrooge hates the fourth of July, Leslie assures us. He takes us back to Afghanistan. At 1 minute and 58 seconds we get our first racist joke. A terrorist turns over his shoulder and calls for “Mohammed”.

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Not to worry, this joke is repeated twelve, maybe eighteen times. The terrorists need a new training video, so they decide to enlist a man who hates America even more than they do.

Cut to: our main character: Michael Malone; a thin parody of Michael Moore, a fat oaf who wants to ban the 4th of July. Here he is in Cuba.

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He loves the healthcare in Cuba, with its massive long lines and its dysgenics and its breathmints-instead-of-medicine. He thinks Cuba is a paradise. He loves it so much that he made a documentary about it and, at the screening, gives it a standing ovation while everyone around him sleeps.

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I don’t really like Michael Moore documentaries but they’re fairly harmless political fluff. But it’s very clear that David Zucker hates him with a furious burning rage reserved only for the kind of people who want better schools and hospitals.

Michael Malone is disgusting and fat and grotesque. He greedily grabs an armful of girl scout cookies and eats pizza so old it has mice running around on it.

 

The girl scout he buys the cookies from calls him a “fat, ignorant, traitorous sack of shit” to his face. He’s too stupid to understand her though, so he brushes it off. 

Politics aside, have any of these wacky, irreverent, gag-laden films apart from Airplane! and the first Naked Gun movie ever really worked? Does anyone remember Dracula Dead and Loving It? Or Epic Movie? Or even fucking The Naked Gun 2? Richard Griffiths is in that one. There’s another discussion there but I can’t help but feel that a large part of those films is the deadpan lead, a Robert Hays or a Leslie Nielsen. Michael Malone is horrendously overplayed here by Kevin Farley, clearly the lesser of the Farley siblings which is fitting because David Zucker without his brother Jerry Zucker sucks ass.

We’re at Michael’s offices – the headquarters for his Ban The Fourth Of July campaign. Why? Because he hates America. Go to Russia, commie.

The role of Fred is taken by Michael’s nephew; a golden American boy Josh. He serves in the Navy.

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When he comes in, he’s mistaken for an activist and asked:

“Are you here to join sailors against war?”

He responds with:

“No, I think all sailors are against war but sometimes we have to fight.”

He sure showed them. 

Michael Malone’s documentary “Die You American Pigs!” has won the Leni Riefenstahl award. Paris Hilton gives him the award. While stuffing himself with canapes and trying to grope young women, Michael Malone accidentally agrees to direct a pro-terrorist film financed by the Afghans from earlier.

Michael Malone sits down in front of the TV with two ready meals and suddenly…

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JFK steps through the television and confronts Michael directly about his reckless peace-mongering. I’m going to reprint a large chunk of their conversation in full here and I want you to imagine David Zucker sitting down at a desk writing it.


JFK: You must redeem yourself. This is the greatest country in history, and you have slandered it all over the globe. 

Michael: I was tryin’ to be like you. You wouldn’t have gone into Vietnam. 

JFK: Who told you that?

Michael: Oliver Stone. In his movie. 

JFK: Oh, brother! Did you ever read my inaugural address? 

Michael: Of course! Ask not what your country can do for you-

JFK: Not that part. The part about going to war.

Michael: There was a war part?

JFK: Oh, brother.
Let every nation know,whether they wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty. 

Michael: I didn’t know about the war part.

JFK: What do you think that meant? Draft another 8 U.N. resolutions? 

Michael: You sound like Reagan.

JFK: Thank you.


Look at how the stupid, idiot modern liberal is painted into a corner by his hero. What hypocracy! He’s a total idiot! I can’t believe all liberals are like this. 

I like this extract because of how much insight it gives you into David Zucker’s mindset. Why would the US need to comply by UN resolutions? You get your opinions from a movie, which makes you an idiot! Now watch my movie and change your opinions.

Kelsey Grammer aa The Ghost of Christmas Past as George C Scott as George S Patton.

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I say Christmas Past, he’s also the Ghost of Christmas Alt-Present and Christmas Sort-Of Future. It’s hard to explain but I’ll get to it. He floats in and out over the course of the next 50 minutes.

Where does he take us to first? What is the best way to go about convincing our hero the error of his ways? Rational debate maybe?

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Of course.

Not only is this film pro-war, it is anti-diplomacy. This scene is an extended comparison of THE MUNICH AGREEMENT to ALL INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS AND TREATIES. This is a take so mind numbingly simplistic that it’d be banned in a sixth form debating society.

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This is so stupid. This might be the stupidest film I have ever seen. It’s a film someone could only make with the most basic understand of politics as glimpsed through Fox News. It could at least have the decency to be funny. Instead we get jokes like the following exchange between Hitler and Neville Chamberlain:

“Und ve’ll name a concentration camp after you, think of it; Camp Auschwitz-Chamberlain.”

The message of this scene is: “talking to dictators achieves nothing”. I won’t turn this into a boring political diatribe but that has never exactly been a message that America was keen on respecting. 

We’re now taken to the alt-present, where the civil war never happened and thus America consists of 50 slave states. Michael Malone owns his own plantation. Look what happens when you’re a pacifist! 

Also, one of the slaves is Gary Coleman. Playing himself. Again.

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Michael is disgusted and wants to leave. We then get the grossest joke I think I have ever seen in film. A little girl pops up from the cotton fields and says “Bye Daddy!”. Then her mother next to her also waves and says “Bye Daddy!”. Then a chorus of about twelve others join in.

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I’m a believer that bad taste can potentially be justified if there is both a valid satirical cause and it is pulled off perfectly. Brass Eye’s Paedogeddon is one of the very few examples of this. This is not that. This is just horrible.

Are you ready for some textbook Nazi anti-intellectualism?


Michael: Are we gonna go back in time?

Patton: We don’t need to, we’re at a University.


We are treated to a musical number where college professors “indoctrinate an entire generation into hating its own country”.

Select lyrics include:

If you think the way we do, we’ll give you an A/
And you get extra credit if you’re poor, black or gay/
Just be sure not to pray.

The professors say nothing’s changed since 1968 (callback to anti-Vietnam protests) and remark on how things used to be better for them then, they had full heads of hair and could ovulate (their words, not mine). The students parents come in and are shocked at how much money they’re wasting on college education.

We then go back in time to Michael’s youth. He and his love agree to wait while Michael goes to film school, but he drops out after one term and gets cucked by a serviceman. It’s implied that the reason that Michael hates the army, July 4th and America is because he’s bitter about this. What utterly garbage film making. 

Then Patton leaves for a while and Michael goes about his day to day life.

BILL O’REILLY CAMEO TIME.

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Michael and a character called Rosie O’Connell are on his talk show to promote their films. Rosie’s is a sketch about the threat posted by Radical Christian Terrorism.

It’s all such patronising garbage. There aren’t many right wing comedians for a reason, you know. Also there’s a weird joke about TSA guards mocking a women for stains in her underwear, telling her to use bleach or changing her diet. 

Rosie then goes on to compare anti-war activism with 9/11 truther politics. It’s false flagging at its utmost. No-one is actually saying these things, it’s just a good strawman for your side. Either David Zucker is genuinely stupid or he has contempt for his fellow American conservatives. All throughout this, Bill O’Reilly is the calm, collected voice of sanity and reason. This is not what Bill O’Reilly is like. The whole film is like a 35mm Ben Garrison cartoon

Bill O’Reilly then gets his own a teachable moment as he turns to Michael during Rosie O’Connell’s tirade about 9/11.


O’Reilly: Here’s a news flash for you, Malone. Your movies may not be
as crazy as Rosie’s, but yours are more dangerous because some idiots believe what you say.

Michael: Because I tell the truth!

O’Reilly: Because you tell the audience what it wants to hear.


Not this film though. 

I’m fairly confident that it was this strawman parody of Rosie O’Donnell that made Trump dislike her so much. He does, after all, constitute the exact target audience.

We’re now in a scene where the terrorists are auditioning people for Michael’s film (???)

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This is where Nielsen as Osama Bin Laden from earlier comes up. Say it with me folks: This is never mentioned again.

Now, the one thing I have got used to over the last 22 days is structure. All of these stories, even fucking Rich Little, follow the same basic premise. This doesn’t. For instance: I have no idea what is a spectral vision and what is not. I also have no idea whether any particular scene is set in the past, present or an alternate universe.

Kelsey comes back again now. What next? We’re under attack! Who could it be? Terrorists? No, it’s the ACLU

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Why the ACLU? To quote Kelsey: 

“They come around every now and again. No listenin’ in on terrorists’ calls. Be nice to Al Qaeda. Read ’em their rights. Separation of church and state.”

The first thing to note about the ACLU is that they are nonpartisan. They are constitutionalists and will defend the 2nd amendment just as strongly as the 24th. The separation of church and state is literally constitutional. How can this film, in one breath, vilify their work and also wax lyrical about liberty? The ACLU are depicted as “the enemies within” and yet it is their unequivocal support of the rule of law that is what makes America the paradise this film claims it to be.

There’s a horrifying bit where Michael chastises Patton for blindfolding prisoners of war in Afghanistan. “It’s against the Geneva convention! Innocent until proven guilty!” he says. “Let me tell you something” Kelsey replies. “If they’re on the battlefield and shooting at you, they’re guilty.”. This is the part I mentioned at the beginning where the film literally condones committing war crimes. 

We then get a shot that is exactly like the ironic Fascist propaganda films from Starship Troopers, pipe music underscoring American soldiers firing guns. A flatly lit hero shot of Kelsey Grammer. But this isn’t ironic. It’s actually a bit scary.

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We’re then transported to the future (I think) where George Washington greets Michael and talks to him about how he used to pray for guidance while President.

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Structure. All. Over. The. Place.

Washington shows Michael outside the chapel, which we are informed are the ruins of the World Trade Centre. THEN we see Michael’s gravestone.

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THEN we meet the “Angel of Death” played by Trace Adkins, who is also playing himself. It’s extremely unclear. 

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He shows Michael a vision of the future, the future that liberals want, where Hollywood has been taken over by terrorists and is renamed Bin Laden City. Does… David Zucker understand what Islamic terrorism is? Also Detroit was nuked and all that was left is Michael’s massive ass. 

How is he buried in a graveyard in New York when his body (sans ass) was vapourised in Detroit? Oh, whatever.

Michael is back in the present now, and heads to his Anti-4th-of-July rally. He comes out against the terrorists and is booed off stage. But don’t worry! The heroic marines protect him all the way.

But that’s not all! Before he goes and visits Fred to complete his redemption arc, he goes to stop a terrorist plot to blow up Trace Adkins. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, he foils it with a little help from some reformed terrorists. 

Tiny Tim, who existed all along despite playing ABSOLUTELY NO PART IN THE STORY turns up and delivers a slightly altered Christmas Carol Message:

“God bless us, every one, and God bless America.”

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End of film.

I don’t know many things but 22 days into Chradvent I know A Christmas Carol. And there is nothing more totally inconsistent with its messages of goodwill, kindness and generosity than this film. It openly condones war, diplomacy by force and hardline reactionary conservativism. It was everything Dickens despised.

Upon its release, the film was panned by liberal critics who found its politics rightfully insidious. It was also panned by several conservative outlets, including Michael Brendan Doherty of The American Conservative who considered the movie to be funny “in parts”, but concluded that “Far from lampooning the Left, “Carol” insults conservatives by presuming that they are so simple as to be won over by fat jokes and flatulence. But the audience, imagining itself to be persecuted by Hollywood, is so grateful to be flattered by Zucker and company that they chuckle obediently at every cheap laff.”

He’s right, of course. The problem here is that even a mediocre conservative comedy is a conservative comedy and so has to be defended by conservatives even if it’s at the expense of their intellectual honesty. 

This was the most morally abhorrent film I have ever seen that was not literally fascist propaganda. 

-1 out of 10


Some days you get 700 words some days you get 2700 words. That’s just all within the standard deviation of Chradvent. 

A Chradvent Carolendar #21: A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)

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Kelsey Grammar stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in this adaptation of the 1992 Alan Menken stage musical. The live show is still put on every year in New York and London, with previous Scrooges including Robert Lindsay, Tim Curry, Roger Daltrey and Frank Langella. If you’re thinking “ooh, that sounds promising” you’d be absolutely wrong because this musical sucks and is boring as hell.

A Christmas Carol: The Musical opens on a terrible CGI shot of London.

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We get a long take of a busy city street and a 9 minute introductory musical number. Now, I’m a very big fan of Alan Menken but every song in this film is completely indistinguishable from the previous. Not only that, but they never stop singing. Every possible moment is its own song with a maximum of 30 seconds of spoken dialogue between numbers. The result is that I have no idea how many songs there actually are. It could be 5, it could be 22. No-one knows.

You can tell this was a stage musical because everything takes place in a couple of large locations and every few minutes there is a long, uninterrupted dance number. It’s nice to get out of Scrooge’s office for a change.

Scrooge’s “let them die” reprimand to the chuggers is given more weight by Kelsey Grammer’s real life hard-right Republican politics.

Bob has a sneeze in this, and that really annoys Scrooge. “Every sneeze is a penny lost!” He says. What? Ok. It’s never mentioned again.

Kelsey Grammer’s Scrooge is campy, similar to Albert Finneys which makes sense as at the time it was the only non-Muppet musical in existence that wasn’t totally garbage.

Among the huge ensemble, three particular individuals sing a couple of lines each, making overt references to the words “past”, “present” and “future”. I wonder who they could be.

 

Scrooge is having a manspread when all of a sudden George from Seinfeld bursts through the wall dressed as Beetlejuice.

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Niles, this is a costume party.

Another completely indistinguishable song, but at least we finally get to see what’s inside all those lock boxes Marley has.

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Ooh, it’s money.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is Jane Krakowski. You might remember her from such films as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Krakowski#Filmography

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We’re straight into another song. How did Alan Menken do this? Between 1989 and 1997 he wrote TEN musicals. Ten INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL full musicals. 

Scrooge’s dad is called John William Scrooge which sucks and is nowhere near as good as Silas. He gets carted away to a debtor’s prison and warns Ebenezer (and only Ebenezer) to save his pennies and make his fortune, then keep it. Fan and their mother get ANOTHER song and we’re told they both later died. Kelsey’s Scrooge has barely said anything so far this entire film. At all. Not even in song.

Fezziwig’s party. Another huge dance number and another indistinguishable song.

Marley dies the fuck in front of Scrooge.

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50 minutes in, out of a total of 87, and we have JUST finished with the Ghost of Past. The Ghost of Present is the black guy from earlier. He says to Scrooge “You’ve never seen the likes of me before”. In Victorian London, I sincerely doubt it.

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All of Present’s stuff is done in the form a Music Hall number in which Scrooge is humiliated on stage. I do not understand what this accomplishes for his reclamation.

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Whoa, we’re getting Ignorance and Want in this happy, upbeat musical? Ok.

Are those kids disabled? Christ… I do not know how ethical this is. Let’s look at the original description of Ignorance and Want to try and divine what the filmmakers were thinking.

“They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.”

I think this might’ve been one of the most tasteless decisions to have been made in a film this Chradvent. I don’t like it.

The Future Ghost is the blind woman from earlier who wastes no time in transforming into the White Witch.

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The “silent ghost” thing that they’re going for is undermined by the character speaking and singing at the beginning of the movie. They head straight to the graveyard where we get our fifth, sixth or possibly tenth all-cast musical number.

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I cannot get over how fucking stupid Scrooge is. The completely indistinguishable song they’re singing is filled with lyrics about how Scrooge specifically is going to die and we even see his bloated grey corpse.

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Still he doesn’t get it.

Eventually, he sees his gravestone and does. I felt nothing here, we don’t really know this Scrooge because we spent too much time watching excessively long dance numbers. Albert Finney didn’t have this problem.

The stone table breaks in two and Scrooge wakes up.

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The first thing he does is grab a caroler and pull him indoors. His friend immediately runs away and Scrooge starts garbling about ghosts. The boy doesn’t look too happy about this.

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Two gold sovereigns are pressed into his hand and they’re off to the butchers. Questions later.  

This is the first time I’ve noticed Scrooge’s ponytail, eurgh. He looks like he’s into steampunk and Doritos. 

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Scrooge kills Bob with the turkey and the film ends. 

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4 1/2 tossed salads and scrambled eggs out of 10


What a shame. I had such high hopes for this one. Oh well. I’m fairly confident that tomorrow’s will be worse.

 

A Chradvent Carolendar #20: A Carol Christmas (2003)

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This is going to be bad, isn’t it?

Carol Cartman is a mean talk show host who’s nasty to crew members on set because she’s a nasty horrible mean lady who’s nasty and mean. Want to know how mean she is? She gives everyone soap as a present. 

Bob Cratchit = her PA, Roberta Timsins
Fred = her sister Beth
Belle = an incredibly handsome man called John Joyce who’s almost comically charitable

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He’s so great he gets a larger headline than the President.

Carol is hosting a live Christmas special, which is an idea so obviously doomed to failure that any producer who ever thought it up deserves to be punched in the face with a turkey.

While being mean and nasty and not liking her nephew’s handmade Christmas presents, Carol Cartman says “bah humbug” because you have to say that when doing A Christmas Carol even if it sounds awkward and makes no sense in context. What makes it even worse is that A Christmas Carol clearly exists in-universe because the film ends with a reading of it. 

Marley is Aunt Marla played by the lady from Grease who wasn’t Frenchy or Rizzo:

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While lecturing Carol, she gestures to herself and delivers the line “I’m doomed to wander the Earth like this!

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I have legitimately no idea what we’re meant to be horrified at. Is it meant to be all the gold chains she’s wearing? Are they meant to be the chains with which she threatens Scrooge/ Carol? Cos if so, try harder next time, they’re 18 karat min.

The light skippy music underscoring every single scene makes it all feel like an episode of Desperate Housewives. Also because it’s 2003 everyone is wearing those slightly flared Mom Jeans you hear about. These two elements bring a powerfully sharp edge to this film which I didn’t realised I missed until I saw it.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is….

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Here we go. Gary Coleman – WHO IS IN CHARACTER AS HIMSELF – takes us on a series of fantastical magical adventures through history. We learn that Aunt Marla was a key figure in Carol’s life, manipulating her into the soap distributing showbiz goddess she is today. 

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As you can see in that screenshot, she forces Carol to choose between her career or getting married. Let’s see… who wrote this?

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Of course.

Aunt Marla does things like set Carol up a meeting with some agents. This upsets John because he was going to propose to her at a party they were meant to be going to. Carol insists on going to the meeting but she could hardly know otherwise. If John really loved her he’d understand that this is what she’s wanted her entire life and that they don’t need to be around other people in order to get engaged.

Marla is openly hostile to Greg or John or whatever his name is. She tells him to his face that he’s nothing more than a brief stopover on their way to the top. She says “No offence, but good riddance” when he leaves the set one time. Why didn’t he just tell Carol about this? Would she not have believed him? If she wouldn’t have then maybe this relationship isn’t so hot.

But when Aunt Marla plans a secret meeting with an Executive Producer, she crosses that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillany. 

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She announces her true intentions; to team up with this producer on a tv programme hosted by Carol that would start as a regular talk show but eventually turn into a programme dedicated to interviewing “freaks”. 

It pains me to say this, but this is even more stupid than the present stealing satanic poodle from An All Dogs Christmas Carol.

That’s her endgame? For 20, 30 years she’s been planning this? What if literally any one element of her plan failed? Why Carol? Why couldn’t she just do it? 

All this new information makes Carol absolutely furious:

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Ok, end of that segment now. We never see or hear anyone mention Aunt Marla ever again.

It’s time for the Ghost of Christmas Present. Who’s it going to be, Urkel?

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FUCK yes. I take everything back, I love this movie now.

Oh no guys. His character is written abysmally, he never stops talking and makes loads of weird self-referential jokes. To preserve Shatner’s legacy I shall therefore never make reference to him here again.

We’re taken to meet Tiny Tim (Lily) who is inexplicably a redhead despite neither of her parents being redheads. Punnet squares people, come on.

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Tim’s deadbeat dad comes around and informs Bob he’s taking her to court for custody. This is, I suppose, a better modern twist on Tim than diagnosing him with a slow growing congenital tumour.

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Nothing says 2003 more than a stretch hummer. 

We get treated to the usual dystopian future of A Christmas Carol. Here, in the not too distant future, Carol has been forced into interviewing freaks and walks out on the production, ending her career in television. This is, of course, would be a massive disaster for Marla’s scheme were she still alive. This film would’ve been more interesting if we were following her reclamation.

There are some other scenes, like an elderly Carol opening a car park – true humiliation. In fact, most of these visions seem to show Carol being humiliated. Is that the ultimate punishment Tom Amundsen could think up? 

At her funeral (she died) Bob and some cameraman are the only attendees. Bob tells us that Lily now lives in Chicago and hates her because of all the time she spent with Carol. Completely unrelated to the custody hearing then?

It’s time for the complete personality 180. The first thing Carol does when waking up is triple Bob’s salary. Triple?! Christ. There’s such a thing as being too generous. 

Carol then uses the live television broadcast to not interview a trial freak but instead to preach the true meaning of Christmas which literally ends with “be nice to each other”.

The smallest studio audience in the world go hog wild for it, I’ll tell you hwhat.

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The executive producer from earlier leans over to Carol and basically says “this was good, we’ll do this instead of the freak stuff”. You signed a contract Hal! Don’t go back on it now! This Christmas stuff is only once a year, the freak stuff will make you millions mid-season!

Carol goes around to her sisters, makes amends, pretty-boy John stops by because he saw her live broadcast, they make amends, yada yada and then everyone gathers round and Carol’s sister’s husband reads the entire of A Christmas Carol to the assembled family. The quintessential Christmas story it may be, but a family storybook it ain’t. Can you imagine anything more depressing than a vivid description of Ignorance and Want just before you hang up your stockings?

They all sing joy to the world as the spirits watch on. But! That’s not all. I take issue with Wikipedia here:

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Wrong, bitch! Scrooged, bitch! If there’s one thing that Chradvent has taught me, and there is only one thing, it’s that.

3 1/2 more Hallmark Christmas Carol adaptations to go out of 10


Weird to think that in 10 years time people will get nostalgic about the time when this film was made as they do now about films from the 90s.

A Chradvent Carolendar #19: A Christmas Carol (2000)

Ross Kemp is a fucking geezer who dresses like The Matrix.

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He lives on the fuckin estate apples and pears. Look at this fucking lady falling into those fucking Xmas logs. Cooorrr.

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He’s only goig’ to chuck the fucking telly! Oi! Guv! Leave it out!

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Fucking hell, mate.

Oo ‘ello, it’s fucking Liz Smith! Third time she’s come up this fucking Chradvent. Whatsatthen.

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Eddie Scrooge’s a bit of a fucking gangster. He’s hard. Bit of a loan shark, yeah?

Bob’s a bit of a twat if you know what I mean. Too nice. Why’s he even fucking working with Scrooge? Does fuck all. 

Fred’s a fucking rozzer.

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‘ello Marley. 

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Christ!

Marley’s a ghost, yeah? but he don’t stick around for long, he fucks off after about two minutes. Prick.

Oi! Yer dad’s on the telly! 

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‘Ello Dad!

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Oh fuck off Dad.

His mum died. Now that’s some fucking sad shit. Dad off down the fucking Coach an’ ‘orses every evening, Ross Kemp has to bring himself up. Also his sister who we never see again. 

Right, Dad’s fucked off, now what? What? It’s Christmas eve again? Christ, it’s like that fucking Groundhog day film, you know, er, Groundhog day. Now Ross is a hard man, but even hard men get a bit confused sometimes. And vice versa.

Fucking Marley again, he’s the Ghost of fucking Christmas Present. What a mug.

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Looks like an episode of fucking Eastenders. Now that’s a fucking programme.

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Look, I’m no twat, I know the value of a fucking shilling but why can’t this Bob geezer buy his family some fucking Christmas presents? The one thing that fucking loan sharks have going for them is that they’re minted. Scrooge employs Bob ‘cos he owes him too much money? What the fuck kind of business plan is that? Bob does fuck all, mate. Can’t believe Scrooge would be such a mug not to just break his fucking legs on the spot.

Oh, and his kid’s got cystic fibrosis. Poor fucker.

So Scrooge gets fucked up over this bird, right? Then fucking Marley only goes and calls ‘im a mug for getting sad. Says it’s not love, it’s greed. Why you fuckin’ showin’ ‘im it then? 

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Ignorance and fucking want? Nah, just some homeless kids who died. Scrooge could’ve fucking helped them but didn’t cos he said he was fucking skint (lying prick).

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Fucking xmas eve again. What the fuck is this? Scrooge pretending to be fucking changed but he ain’t really. Does a bit of fucking charity work, doesn’t wanna accept some bloke’s money. Fucking gets angry, dun ‘e?

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Will give him that. That’s a fucking nice twist on the original story. Shows him trying but missing the fucking point. Takes homeless kid to his fucking true love Bella the nurse and Constabable Habib from the fucking Thin Blue Line. Kid’s already dead. Christ Ross, get it together you twat.

‘oo the fuck is the fucking Future Ghost?

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Awright, whatever.

What the fuck is going on here?

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Whatever the fuck it is it ‘appens for a full 25 seconds.

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Aw fuck, he’s just gonna miss the new Doctor Who. 

‘ello, it’s xmas eve again. Cor. Scrooge only goes and fucking sacks Bob. “Your debts are a small price to pay for getting rid of you, you’re useless”. Fucking spot on mate.

Liz Smith gets a fucking hamper. Lovely bloke, that Scrooge.

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He turns in Marley’s killer (knew who it was the whole time, the mug) and says he’s going around to Fred’s for din dins. Fred tells him he’s a fucking vegetarian and you can already see the look of regret on Ross’ cheeky face.

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Scrooge doesn’t do a complete fucking 180 here, yeah? Feels like the same person after the ghosts come along and fuck him up. Like that. First time that’s happened. Same old cheeky witty geezer from before. Hard as fucking nails but with a heart of fucking gold nails.

Oh yeah, the Future Ghost was his fucking kid from the future when he gets with that Bella bird. Guess this film was actually a fucking stealth anti-abortion drama. 

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That’s the end.

4 out of 10, you cunt.


Oi! Scrooge! No!

A Chradvent Carolendar #18: A Christmas Carol (1999)

I need one day away from this and I think I’ll be fine. I’ve had to turn down work to do this, you know. 

Today we’ve got another fucking American television movie. Feels like every few years the Hallmark channel said “we haven’t ground A Christmas Carol into the dirt for a while, who’ve we got on the books?”. In this particular effort to piss away $2 million on costume rental, Patrick Stewart stars as Ebenezer Scrooge and Richard E. Grant as Bob Cratchit. Cool.

We start with a funeral procession. Marley’s. This Ebenezer Scrooge has the tallest and most powerful top hat yet.

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I like the funeral. No need for a narrator to repeatedly insist that Marley is dead like we’re all idiots. Someone at the funeral takes issue with the phrase “dead as a door nail” and instead suggests “dead as a door knocker”. OOoooOOOooooOOo.

Scrooge promises Marley that the firm they built together will prosper. Aha! Here’s a new angle. Could it be that his heterosexual comradeship with Jacob Marley that spurs his retreat into work and miserdom?

Spoilers: No. 

Fred and the chuggers help us get a sense of SirPatStew’s Scrooge; he is a stern, angry, bitter man who does not tolerate fools gladly. The wiki states that this film took a lot of inspiration from the 1951 version. I refuse to criticise Patrick Stewart’s acting but I will say that Sim managed to make Scrooge both intimidating and pathetic and you just don’t get the same depth here. It isn’t helped by boring cinematography and a lacklustre cast. If it weren’t for Richard E. Grant, whom I love, and Patrick Stewart, whom I love, this would be an insanely mediocre film.

Scrooge threatens to murder some innocent carol singers with a blunt steel instrument.

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This was such an iconic moment that it made it onto the box art:

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You can even see the poor little carol singer on the left awaiting an imminent brutalisation.

First Marley knocker that is both a morph AND a superposition. Aha! It’s the late 90s now, The Phantom Menace is out and CGI now no longer looks fucking unwatchable

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Look at how bloody cute Sir Patrick looks in his pyjamas.

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Marley is the first really convincing ghost I’ve seen yet.

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I like that he’s both translucent AND has a shadow. He unhinges his jaw and Scrooge kindly helps him with it.

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That was nice of him.

The rest of the Marley scene plays out as it usually does, with the rare addition of the wandering spirits outside the window.

The Ghost of Christmas Past looks like an 18th century Belgian metrosexual.

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Scrooge’s sister has been renamed Fran because we’re in the 90s now and can’t call someone Fanny and in the same line use the words “maternal death”.

Belle breaks up with Scrooge because he slowly turned into a neoliberal cowboy.

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Scrooge snuffs out Past as he does in the book. I guess this hadn’t really been attempted properly before but this is the late 90s now, baby. Quantum Leap exists. 

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The Ghost of Christmas Present is a bored homeless man.

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He’s played by an actor called Desmond Barrit, notable for playing the Wizard in Wicked on Broadway. The actor who played the Ghost of Past is Joel Grey…. notable for… playing the Wizard in Wicked on Broadway. Huh. Also Nigel Planer did it. If you had asked me where their talents overlapped I would NOT have said that.

What am I doing, thinking about a film that isn’t A Christmas Carol? Sorry.

The Ghost of Christmas Present looks bored, tired and old. He delivers all his lines like he’s just about to die and because they wanted to make him look taller than he was he’s awkwardly bluescreened in (this wasn’t a problem for Edward Woodward). He also takes us around the country in a bad CGI tornado.

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When he’s even more old and ready to die, the Ghost of Present temporarily transforms into Geoffrey Rush.

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We get ignorance & want here but it sucks. Now it’s time for the future ghost: 

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You might think this looks cool or you might think this looks like a Jawa from Star Wars Episode IV but either way it loses all impact when shown in an ordinary setting, as it is immediately. 

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Looks like the top half of a pram’s been stapled to a duvet cover. They should also definitely not have given it human hands. Props to this film for delivering one of the most awkward transitions of Chradvent.

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Reminds me of the time Homer made Flanders a dating video.

Old Joe is not only a Vicar of Dibley reunion, but the second time Liz Smith has been in Chradvent.

yada yada Gravestone yada Tiny Tim yada yada.

Scrooge wakes up in the morning, does this:

Then anonymously buys the turkey for Bob, goes to Fred’s house yada yada raises Bob’s salary yada yada yada.

The film ends on some narration, which is a shame because it so cleverly sidestepped the need for any at the start with the funeral scene.

Bit of a disappointment, this film. Started so promisingly with an interesting twist on the original but again made way for another straightforward, bland adaptation of a story which has been done so much better before. PatStew and REGrant are very good and they elevate it just a bit above mediocrity.

6 cold dead eyes of a dying Ghost of Christmas Present out of 10


Attempting to replicate what someone else did before is dooming yourself to failure. You’re missing out on the spirit of originality that made the first so successful. You can’t, at this point in the late 90s, simply do what Alastair Sim did. So aware are we of previous adaptations that they will always exist for comparison in the mind of the viewer. Why not mix it up a little?

A Chradvent Carolendar #17: An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)

An All Dogs Christmas Carol is the third film in the All Dogs Go To Heaven franchise (which I haven’t seen) and the grand finale of the All Dogs animated series (which I haven’t seen). As such I found it completely incomprehensible. I‘m sure this could’ve been avoided had I been more familiar with All Dogs Cinematic Universe but there was absolutely no way I was going to sit through 2 films and 40 episodes of a shitty cartoon series just to appreciate whatever the fuck this was a bit better, Chradvent is already killing me as it is.

Like the original FrankensteinAn All Dogs Christmas Carol is a story within a story. This is the only comparison to Frankenstein I will make and there are no other similarities but I’ll still include it because it pads for 40 words.

What else… it was released straight to DVD and Don Bluth was not involved in any way.

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I… ugh. I really don’t want to do this.

Annabelle is some sort of angelic whippet who is reading a story to the assorted puppies of Heaven. We are repeatedly reassured that this is a true story and the one responsible for it was: B̺̹EL͈̮̞ͅL̰̥͖̟A̙͙̥͔͈D̮̖͈O̝͟N͖N̛̤̻̤̩̤̟͕A̴̩̯̲̠̰

Nope, me neither. 

ROLL CREDITS

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Dom DeLuise? The Dom DeLuise

We get a pretty bland opening number as the dogs of San Francisco set up their Christmas tree.

I have no idea who any of them are. Tiny Tim is some dog with a bad leg.

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From the few clips I’ve seen of the original I don’t remember everything looking so bland and shitty as it does here. Look at this:

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Compare it to this scene from the first film:

What a pivot. 

This is underpinned by the film’s bad guy, Carface Crothers.

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Compare and contrast:

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What a fucking pivot. 

Carface summons Shenron the Eternal Dragon with what we later learn is a hypnotic dog whistle.

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He uses this to steal everyone’s PRECIOUS BONES and makes off with them. He also makes off with the collection tin for Tiny Tim’s operation. 

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That character you see at the front there, unceremoniously dumping his PRECIOUS BONES onto the pile, was the main character of the last two films. He gets maybe twenty minutes of screen time maximum. 

The dogs come to their senses after Carface leaves and decide NO. The PRECIOUS BONES are theirs. They break into Carface’s house where he’s counting gold coins (presumably he went to one of those Cash4Bones shops in downtown San Francisco) and demand Carface give return Tiny Tim’s collection tin alongside the PRECIOUS BONES. Carface says he’d love to chat but “his boss won’t let [him]”. 

This heralds the entrance of B̺̹EL͈̮̞ͅL̰̥͖̟A̙͙̥͔͈D̮̖͈O̝͟N͖N̛̤̻̤̩̤̟͕A̴̩̯̲̠̰, demonic sister of Annabelle. 

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What a sucky, nothing design. Don Bluth would’ve never settled for that. He’d have drawn something like this:

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I think this movie is making me retroactively like Don Bluth a lot more than I actually do. Also, Belladonna isn’t really Carface’s boss – it’s clearly some sort of freelance situation in the vein of Uber.

She unveils a grand scheme to steal everyone’s presents by hypnotising all the dogs using a massive oversized version of the whistle Carface used earlier. It’s not really on the same level as this, is it?

Scared away by B̺̹EL͈̮̞ͅL̰̥͖̟A̙͙̥͔͈D̮̖͈O̝͟N͖N̛̤̻̤̩̤̟͕A̴̩̯̲̠̰’s immense demonic presence, Dom DeLuise and the other dog run away down a secret hatch (???) that leads into some sewers (?????) 

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But… the front door was open… you opened it… how did you know that going through this trapdoor would allow you to….

Maybe this was a callback to a previous escapade that I missed. I optimistically checked both the Alldogsgotoheaven wiki and the Don Bluth wiki and no, it’s not. Also, far more importantly, in the second film we see Carface die and go to Hell. Guess he just CAME BACK!

The dogs (I don’t know their names) then receive a vision from Annabelle (the good one) who explains that they need to stop B̺̹EL͈̮̞ͅL̰̥͖̟A̙͙̥͔͈D̮̖͈O̝͟N͖N̛̤̻̤̩̤̟͕A̴̩̯̲̠̰ (the bad one) from her evil, wicked scheme to steal everyone’s Christmas presents. 

But why did Carface steal all the bones? Oh, whatever.

Annabelle then says she is not allowed to interfere but gifts the main dog, the one who isn’t Dom DeLuise, a “miracle dog tag”. It quickly becomes clear that this grants the wearer COMPLETE AND TOTAL OMNIPOTENCE.

The dogs decide to fake three Christmas Carol-like visitations for Carface and by fake I mean make happen literally. You might think that it’d be fun to see how the dogs convincingly fake a haunting well enough to make a villain turn over a new leaf, but no. Using the power of the Doomsday Medallion they hijack Carface’s television and pull him inside of it, sending him back in time. This scene also has some of the suckiest animation I’ve seen yet.

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During that 6 second clip he says the following:

“In this story you will be visited by three ghosts. Each will arrive by the chiming of a bell, hmm?”

There’s absolutely no sync between his actions and the words whatsoever. Why won’t he stop moving? There’s no shading, everything’s brown and his eyes. are. dead.

Dog DeLuise is the first ghost. In Carface’s past we see him as a puppy, a “heckraiser”, who eventually gets turfed out onto the streeets because he pissed behind the Christmas tree. Truly a relatable story. 

For the Ghost of Present, he gets pulled into the radio. What next, a fucking gramaphone? Truly the malevolent forces of the Shadow Amulet act in stupid, confusing ways.

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Who’s the Ghost of Present?

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Uhh… who?

The Alldogsgotoheaven wiki says she’s called Sasha – stupid name for a dog – and she’s Charlie’s on and off girlfriend. She’s in on this now? I guess Charlie’s the dog who isn’t Dom DeLuise?

Whoever they all are, Carface is taken to see Tiny Tim, whose owner doesn’t rat him out for breaking a plate. This makes Carface break down into tears.

We also get some more context on Tim’s illness: he has a bad leg. This will still kill him, we learn. Even so, why are the dogs collecting for Tim despite the fact he has human owners? Even if the dogs managed to raise the thousands of dollars presumably necessary how would they explain it to the owners? Whatever.

Carface is sucked into a comic book and the main dog is the Ghost of Future. For some reason the whole segment is an allusion to the 1994 Jim Carrey film The Mask.

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He starts with “It’s showtime!” and it carries on in that same way for a while. It’s all very weird.

Instead of showing anyone’s tombstone or empty crutch, Ipkiss’ divinely bestowed future vision shows the effects of the giant hypnotic dog whistle being activated. Under its spell, Tim carries a present out of the house and Carface repents, saying that Tim will be kicked out for this! It can’t go on!

Hang on a second guys, I see a flaw in B̺̹EL͈̮̞ͅL̰̥͖̟A̙͙̥͔͈D̮̖͈O̝͟N͖N̛̤̻̤̩̤̟͕A̴̩̯̲̠̰’s plan. Sorry to break up the flow. Hypnotising the dogs won’t get her all the presents in San Francisco, it will get her all the presents that each individual dog can carry in its mouth out of the dog flap. At best she’s going to end up with a few stocking fillers and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Also, having been granted total omniscience of the future, can’t the main dog use his new knowledge to educate himself on the flaws of her machine? Can’t he trap her in a television or a radio or something? Can’t they just destroy the device? Why leave a margin of error? What if Carface doesn’t reform? What if it makes no difference if he does? For that matter, what role does he play in Belladonna’s plan? He’s completely surplus to requirements. The construction of the giant whistle is already completed by Christmas morning without his help and all he actually gets to do when it comes to it is pull the lever.

And pull the lever he does. Three visitations indeed. Stupid idea. 1998l.png

Couldn’t Belladonna have just done that? She’s not doing anything else. In the end Carface redeems himself by blowing up the giant whistle, though I’m not entirely sure how. 

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He connects the barrel to its power source which turns it red hot and causes it to explode, I think? Also the lightning cel overlaps the cel it’s meant to be behind oops.

That’s the end really. The dogs gather back under the Christmas tree and Carface returns the presents and Tim’s collection tin, which he has now filled. 

One of the dogs remarks 

“This will be a story to repeat for years to come.”

You’re telling me, mate.

Carface says :

“Don’t expect this to last for long, I have a business to run.”

And Sasha replies with 

“Well at least it lasted for a day.”

It’s always a sign of quality when your Scrooge says he’s only going to be nice for the remainder of the film. I guess they wanted to milk his highly interesting character a bit more in series. They never did, it got cancelled and they never made a fourth movie. 

Then it’s back to Annabelle, who’s reading the story to the puppies in heaven. 

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Wait a minute – these puppies are dead, aren’t they? Why is Tiny Tim still living on this miserable Earth with a broken leg when he could be in eternal paradise? Guess it was all pointless.

This was bad, but it was for kids. You can forgive it a few things for that but being aimed at a younger audience is no excuse for mediocre storytelling and animation, especially when it’s a sequel to one of Don Bluth’s better movies. 

Whatever.

2 1/2 dogs whose names I never learnt out of 10


So, so lame. I think I may have even preferred The Flintstones one to this. At least with The Flintstones it’s not pretending to be a fucking horrifying Don Bluth film.

A Chradvent Carolendar #16: Ms. Scrooge (1997)

What a nothing movie.

Ms. Scrooge sees Cicely Tyson play a race swapped, gender swapped Scrooge living in contemporary Rhode Island. You might think this would make for an interesting opportunity to do an updated retelling of the story but instead we get a bland, uninspired 80 minutes that looks and feels like an episode of Murder She Wrote without any murders. This is the worst kind of bad because it’s just mediocre and boring; we never quite ascend to the dizzying lows of Rich Little.

I’m watching a version ripped from Canadian TV and this shot made me laugh
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Cratchit is late for work and woe betide he be late for work else the mean Ms. Scrooge crush his testes in a log book.

Here’s our protag, Ms. Ebenita Scrooge.

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I can’t really fault her performance here, you deal the cards you’re given, but I’m not entirely sure of her choice to use a voice halfway between Steve Urkel and Rich Little as Edith Bunker.

We learn that she employs 16 people, making hers by far the most successful branch of Scrooge and Marley’s across the multiverse. We also learn that she says “garbage” instead of “humbug”. An equally memorable catchphrase. She has a cat called Mortimer though, so she can’t be all bad.

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Extremely unceremonious arrival of Maude Marley. No mystery or build up or reaction from Ebenita. 

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This might actually be my least favourite Marley yet. Bored and unintimidating. It doesn’t even feel like she’s a ghost. It feels like she’s one of the Aunts from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

She does tell us something interesting though; if Scrooge changes her ways then that’s her ticket “out of this”. This is a recurrent theme; the spirits of Christmas that visit Scrooge are real souls who died and went to hell and are now trying to repent. 

 

We get Shitty Humphrey Bogart, Neckman and Late 2007 Goth. They’re all pretty uninteresting. Guess they blew all the costume budget on food for the cat.

It’s quite remarkable how little there is to talk about in this film. We race through the Past, Present and Future staves – with a few notable differences. 

The first is that we follow Scrooge’s early life very closely. For instance: we learn that, when she was young, her father died in a bad CGI house fire.

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I thought they were going to do something interesting about how her father, an African-American, ran a successful business in the 1930s American south. Nope.

Beyond that, we get a fairly accurate picture of her life to date and it’s something that other adaptations could probably afford to do. It’s just a shame that this one is so boooring.

The second major difference is that we see Scrooge die on screen. She collapses after refusing Fred’s request to help Tiny Tim. She almost falls over and Fred offers to help but she says no. Then she dies alone, surrounded by her money. Oh, Fred’s a Baptist minister.

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I will give them this: in refusing Fred’s aid out of pride, they managed to contrive an effective workaround of why Scrooge dies if he/ she doesn’t reform. The funeral scene, attended only by Fred, his wife and Bob Cratchit (who turns up late) is sad.

The third difference is that, instead of some unnamed condition, the film mentions offhand that Tiny Tim is dying of a “slow growing congenital tumour”.

I will admit that was a significant factor in my decision to watch the film.

There’s so little to write about!!! I almost feel like I’m letting you down but then I remember that I’m basically writing the equivalent of a dissertation every 5 days of December and I stop feeling so guilty.

When it comes to Christmas Day Ms. Scrooge is repeatedly told that she “suddenly looks really pretty”. She is also the only Scrooge to both buy a turkey for Bob anonymously and then immediately turn up to reveal to the Cratchits that she bought said turkey. Tiny Tim eventually makes the connection. Him and Scrooge then exchange the following stupid dialogue:

“Don’t you get it? It was Ms Scrooge who sent us the turkey!”

“How did you guess that?”

“I didn’t guess, I put two and two together.”

“You like numbers?”

“Yeah I like math best of all in school.”

What?

This was by far the most unremarkable, forgettable adaptation of A Christmas Carol I’ve seen yet. Every chance it could’ve taken to do something original or interesting it didn’t. It was competently made and performed but I have to beg the question: why?

4 slow growing congenital tumours out of 10


Just less than 800 words this Chradvent. Don’t worry lads, tomorrow will be a doozy.