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A Christmas Carol Review

“A wild ride” is certainly right! Jim Carrey goes screaming through his horrifying adventures with the Three Ghosts of Christmas, introduced by Marley’s, his dead partner’s, hellish chain. Each Ghost is supremely eerie in its own fashion, even the merry and jocular ghost of Christmas Present who whacks Ebenezer Scrooge upside the head with his large flaming lamp. The marvel is that Jim Carrey plays each Ghost while he also plays Scrooge. His voice-personifications of Scrooge and the Ghosts are perfect...each one! To quote Carrey from an interview, “It was a real challenge to play alongside myself.” Well…he rose to the challenge and he conquered it!

Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most often made productions in Hollywood. The first filming of it was in 1901 followed by another in 1910. The classic version most people are familiar with, since they are the most frequently rerun on television, may be the Edwin L. Marin film Scrooge of 1938 starring Reginald Owen, with Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim and the 1951 Brian Desmond Hurst production Scrooge starring Alistair Sim, with Glyn Dearman as Tiny Tim. We will say that with Robert Zemeckis’s 2009 production of A Christmas Carol we have lived to see the definitive version of Dickens’s beloved classic tale. Although…there is another A Christmas Carol in the works for 2010!

The story is well known. Ebenezer Scrooge, a sour-hearted old skinflint, loathes Christmas and all expressions of human warmth and sentimentality especially at Christmastime when do-gooders come out in droves daring to sing beneath his window, ask for charitable contributions for orphaned children (the nerve!), and extend invitations to family Christmas celebration feasts. Bah. Humbug. Once, Scrooge had a business partner, Marley, whom he counted as a friend. Marley is dead now—but not gone. Marley comes to tell Scrooge that he will have a chance to change his coldhearted ways and, to help him along the path of redemption, he will make the acquaintance of Three Ghosts. They will be the Ghost of Christmas Past, to shed a little light on his past and what unfortunate events brought him to his present life of hatefulness; the Ghost of Christmas Present, to shed the warmth of a little cheer into his cold, cold heart; and the Ghost of Christmas Future, to show Scrooge the upcoming consequences of his cruel, unloving ways.

Scrooge meets these Ghosts one by one and the fun begins—well—for us—not so much for Scrooge, as he is flown for one scene in his life to another on the magical powers of the Three Ghosts. We see Scrooge as an impressionable boy and a tenderhearted young man; we see Scrooge’s present day family and friends—oh no, never mind, he has no friends; and we see the great gaping hole of the oblivion of his future. Christmas Day dawns. All that is left to know is whether Scrooge has survived his wild ride or died in the night and gone to meet his Future Christmas and whether Marley’s plan has succeeded—or not.

Zemeckis is the genius behind the writing and directing of other sensational films like Back to the Future I – The Ride (1985-1991, Michael J. Fox) and Polar Express (2004, with Tom Hanks in six roles), and his genius has not deserted him! This IMAX 3D film is spectacular for detailed precision and precision technology. I always think the singers are real people tossed in for effect--but of course they are not; they are as much a technological wonder as the rest of A Christmas Carol. In IMAX 3D and Disney 3D (both!), you’ll fly across the moon in an allusion to a previous great movie, ET (1982), a Steven Spielberg wonder. You’ll fall down tunnels; you’ll land in a sack of coffee beans; you’ll fly across frozen wintry plains; you’ll sail unpleasantly through throngs of unredeemed souls. You’ll jump out of your seat and have a joyous time.

Zemeckis’s and Carrey’s A Christmas Carol, an Animated Drama movie, is the best of what present day acting, film technology and filmmaking have to offer. Carrey has found his crowning jewel and Zemeckis has made it shine. It is an absolute family must see. Caution though: A Christmas Carol carries a PG rating for “scary sequences and images.” It will be best to save A Christmas Carol for a future stocking stuffer treat for young ones who are frightened by that which is frightening. Yong ones can wait a while for this great film—it’s not going anywhere but onto DVD and Blue Ray!

Robert Zemeckis – Director (2009)
Charles Dickens – Book Author
Robert Zemeckis – Screenplay Writer
Jim Carrey – Scrooge at all ages; Three Ghosts of Christmas
Ryan Ochoa – Tiny Tim
Gary Oldman – Bob Cratchit; Marley
Colin Firth – Fred
Robin Wright Penn – Belle
Bob Hoskins – Mr. Fezziwig
Robert Presley – Cinematography
Marc Gabbana and Mike Stassi – Art Direction
Production Design – Doug Chiang

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