Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11: "I do not make merry at Christmas"

Gonzo: "Hello! Welcome to the Muppet Christmas Carol! I am here to tell the story."
Rizzo the Rat: "And I am here for the food."

With those words The Muppet Christmas Carol (the fourth feature film to star the Muppets) hit theaters on this day in 1992. A musical comedy retelling of Charles Dickens' classic holiday story, the film was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Directed by Brain Henson (son of Jim Henson - who had passed away in May 1990) The Muppets Christmas Carol starred veteran actor Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. Narrated by Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens (voiced by David Goetz) and Rizzo the Rat (voiced by Steven Whitmire), the majority of the cast was comprised of puppets - although it was the first Muppet movie to mainly focus on characters played by humans. British actor Steven Mackintosh portrayed Fred, the nephew of Scrooge, and singer-actress Meredith Braun played Belle, Scrooge's former lover.

Braun also sang "When Love Is Gone" in a scene where she laments the end of her relationship with sour Ebenezer Scrooge - but the song was cut from the original theatrical version. The song was used at the end of the film - although that version featured the vocals of Martina McBride. "When Love Is Gone" was written by legendary songwriter Paul Williams who composed all of the film's songs with Miles Goodman supplying the score.

Despite the humorous spin on Dickens' tale (first published in 1843), it is a fairly close adaptation of the original story. Gonzo even recites many of Dickens' original words!

The film is filled with everyone's favorite Muppets including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Bob's wife Emily, Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim, Statler as Jacob Marley, Waldorf as Robert Marley, and Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig.

Despite being a modest box office success, The Muppet Christmas Carol didn't make much of an impact during its original theatrical release (as it had to contend with the features Home Alone 2 and Disney's Aladdin).

The film was released to VHS the following November and on DVD in 2002.

Click HERE for more December 11 Disney history.

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