The Muppet Christmas Carol

Starring Michael Caine. Rated general.

Now playing at Capitol 6, Esplanade 6, Richmond, Station Square 7, and others

Who will be more disappointed by The Muppet Christmas Carol: fans of Dickens or of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy? I say both, because in this case, familiarity breeds great expectations. Children unfamiliar with the Homeric journey of one Ebenezer Scrooge are not likely to be moved by its rather rote treatment by director Brian Henson (son of Jim), and adults will be annoyed by the queasy, half-hearted attempt to have semi-narrators Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat break up the psychodrama with weak humour and forced slapstick.

Another problem is that as good as Michael Caine is–and the movie would be unwatchable without him–he's never as bloodless as we need a good Scrooge to be. The adaptation's swift arc and the stupefyingly forgettable songs from Muppet-sized Paul Williams tell us from the first scene just how human he is, and Caine is so vital that his Scrooge simply seems to be going through a grumpy patch. The aforementioned Kermit, Piggy, and even the three seasonal ghosts are just sketchy backdrops for his light-switch transformation from heartless capitalist to rich guy with a lot of puppet friends.