A family-friendly introduction to Dickens' classic tale.
The arrival of Marley’s ghost can frighten the young and sensitive. And of course there is the silent spectre of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. At the end of that sequence Scrooge falls into an open grave and wakes up in Hell, for an extended, surreal sequence that may leave kids asking questions.
Scavengers and sycophants and flatterers and fools
“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” The story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been retold in so many ways it can be easy to forget it’s a ghost story. The best adaptations (e.g. the 1951 film starring Alistair Sim) can inspire nightmares. But this musical retelling, with songs by Leslie Bricusse (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Doctor Dolittle) is less interested in frightening than in entertaining. Critically unloved upon its release, the film became a family tradition for an enthusiastic few—even prior to the debut of the VCR. (Every year I meet new lifelong fans.) Many of this adaptation’s strengths would be weaknesses in other contexts: the unapologetically hammy performance by Albert Finney in the title role, the portrayal of Tiny Tim as a sweet, wide-eyed angel, the go-for-broke, dance-through-the-streets Cockney anthem “Thank You Very Much.” It’s the cinematic equivalent of a perennial regional theatre production of A Christmas Carol—the kind typically advertised with pull quotes and exclamation marks. Some families will never get around to seeing it, others will enjoy it with their children one time, and some will return, year after year, to delight in the ripening pleasures of its familiar charms. —