Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Christmas Carol (2009)

Starring Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, et al
Rated PG, 96 minutes

Welcome to what is likely the 1,254th official adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," the classic tale penned by Charles Dickens some 4,000 years ago. This one's computer generated and brought to you by Disney.

Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman take many of the voices you'll hear, with Jim Carrey in the lead role. I shan't insult your intelligence by recapping the whole plot, as this story is as well-traveled as it can be. It teaches the positives of giving and the perils of greed.

The computer animation was mostly a success. Ebeneezer was to Jim Carrey as Shrek was to Mike Myers - both figures captured the actor voicing them in a subtle, cool way. In the scenes where Scrooge was visited by the three spirits, the imagery was a predictably good fantasy-land. In scenes where things were "real," it was tougher to pin down. The characters would look and move like real people one second, and look like PlayStation cut-scenes the next.

I was surprised to hear several people outside the theater remark that the movie was "not as funny" as they had anticipated. How would "A Christmas Carol" even work as a "wacky" movie? I guess Jim Carrey's name still means rubberface-fueled laughs to some people.
That end of Jim's repertoire was well-suited to the ending scenes where Scrooge is happy-go-lucky.

I'm also at a loss as to why this got released in early November. Maybe it's trying to play to the same school of thought that gives us Christmas music 'round the clock starting on Halloween, but I don't subscribe to that. The "Christmas season" always begins for me on Black Friday. I just don't feel that holiday warmth any time sooner, and maybe that contributed to the movie falling a bit flat for me.

For kids, the movie should pass. The filmmakers inserted a long chase sequence that looked to satiate the younger set, but also
screamed "IMAX justification" to me. Since "A Christmas Carol" is more about the lessons learned than any super cool visuals, I don't know why this needed to be in IMAX 3D.


Given how versed I am with the story, I can't really guess how this version would come across to somebody experiencing "A Christmas Carol" for the first time. I felt rushed in to Scrooge's visits with the spirits, and that his turnaround to being giving was underplayed. I'm surprised to see this movie had a budget of 200 million. It isn't the usual star-studded laughfest for all ages that typifies an animated movie that redoubles its investment. I would guess the word of mouth will work against this one making a profit. It's not bad, but it sure isn't a must-see.

No comments: