Merry Christmas!

This one I recommend.

Jim Carrey as Scrooge (right) and the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Heart-warming; visually captivating

I know that the sentence “Starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge” is something that would turn people off quickly. However, with the help of CGI, Carrey becomes a pretty good Scrooge in a pretty good adaptation of Charles Dickens‘ wonderful book A Christmas Carol.

Robert Zemeckis is the man behind this Disney-retelling of a classic tale and it is an exciting ride that maintains the tone and feel of Dickens’ novel. It is a film of good looks, a nice soundtrack and a big heart, all fitting around the time of Christmas. But, as fans of the novel are most likely aware, there are those who don’t like Christmas that much. Who could I be thinking of?

His name is Ebenezer Scrooge. He lives in 19th century London. He is a wealthy and cold-hearted old man who views Christmas and the joy it brings as pure “humbug”. He is cruel to the townsfolk and worries only about himself and his money. He barely even cares for his nephew Fred (Colin Firth). One of the only nice things he does is giving his employee Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) the day off for Christmas. He returns home one night and is met by the spectre of his dead colleague Jacob Mrley (also played by Oldman) who warns him that three spirits will come to haunt him.

They are The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past brings Scrooge on a journey into his past, where he is reminded of his friendless childhood, his old roommate Dick (Cary Elwes), his old boss Mr. Fezzwig (Bob Hoskins) and Belle (Robin Wright Penn), the woman he fell in love with but lost around Christmas time. Saddened by this, he later encounters The Ghost of Christmas Present who shows him how miserable the poor people around him are. Scrooge is especially moved to see Bob Cratchit’s house, and his sick, dying son Tiny Tim (Ryan Ochoa).

We all know the story. Would I be spoiling anything if I told you what happens when The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come appears?

The Ghost of Christmas Past, my favourite character, appears before Scrooge.

Sometimes I don’t understand why we feel like we need to use motion capture when we can just use real actors? In this film, sure, it was needed so that Jim Carrey’s face could be digitally altered to look aged I suppose, but this brings me to another thing I don’t understand: why Jim Carrey? You don’t think the pretty visuals are enough to enthrall the children, so you need Carrey’s goofiness too?

But I’m being harsh. Thankfully, here Jim Carrey is once again given the oppurtunity to actually play a character and not just do the goofy faces, voices and body movements he’s been providing us with since Ace Ventura. You see Carrey, you’re a pretty funny guy, but the shtick gets sort of old around 20th time you do it. My favourite comedic Carrey-film will always be The Mask, because The Mask is the only character Jim Carrey’s played where his over-the-top craziness is actually required, and my favourite over-all would be Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, becuase it shows his ability to do anything other than his redundant wackiness. Now here’s A Christmas Carol and in it Carrey plays not only Scrooge but also the three different spirits. I thought I would never say that Jim Carrey plays Ebenezer Scrooge rather well.

This is certainly an enjoyable and joyful film, with an interesting story and characters, for which we can thank Charles Dickens, and lovely visuals, for which we can thank Zemeckis. As pretty-looking as the film is, though, the animation looks like it belongs in a video game; it doesn’t look finished. I made this observation early in the runtime, but as the film was getting started, I forgot about this flaw rather quickly. The wonderful character designs, Alan Silvestri‘s music and the story made me stop caring. A Christmas Carol is moving, delightful, heart-warming, good-looking and sometimes quite frightening. I did not see it in 3D but this is one of those times I think I might’ve enjoyed it if I did.

The major issue for me, though, is that the film can’t avoid cranking and exaggerating the silliness a few times, because filmmakers today wont allow a Jim Carrey-film where he doesn’t goof around as always. He’s good at doing other things and playing Scrooge is different for him. I’m glad he gave it a good shot. I like him in roles like this.

4.5/5 whatever.

Merry Christmas!