IHAO on ... Scrooge
I do not like the Christmas Carol.
Yes, yes, I'm a heathen, I'm wrong, I should be punished, yadda yadda yadda. I do not like the story of a Christmas Carol. While there are adaptations that have warmed my heart, like the Muppets and Mickey, most leave me cold, like Patrick Stewart's, Kelsey Grammar's, George C. Scott's, the list goes on. But there is an old 1970s version, staring Sir Alec Guinness and Albert Finney which I have never seen, and for some people, it is there definitive version of the story! So I strapped on my big boy pants, sat down, and got ready with a clear conscience to give this one a shot. And ... it was fine.
Yeah, I was expecting something bigger. But it was just ... fine. It just kind of averaged out to a fine film. And I say "averaged out" on purpose, because there is some stuff I love, and some stuff that I really hated. And sometimes they are the same thing, actually.
Like ... let's talk about "scope." Scope in a film is how enormous or small something feels. Lord of the Rings films have ENORMOUS scope, and their influence vastly changed the scope of most films, making many adventure and fantasy films enlargen their scope when a smaller scope suited the story better. Look at the Walden Media Chronicles of Narnia films. They tried to emulate that enormous scope of the Lord of the Rings films, when those are really much smaller more intimate stories that use scope sparingly to really emphasize their points in the books and earlier, far superior adaptations. And Scrooge's scope is very large. It makes London feel bustling and big, and truly I loved that in the beginning, seeing the thriving city and the enormous sets. But then you reach Scrooge's house where it is just ... empty space. Or the scene where he walks through the city, finding people that owe him money and you start to get lost in a sea of faces that are hard to remember. And all the pathos you are supposed to have for the Cratchets gets lost because of the soup man, and the puppet guy, and the old ladies, and the annoying kids. And you reach the musical numbers which are all just huge and ... impersonal. Or even worse, detrimental.
"Thank You Very Much" is such a bitter song because Scrooge doesn't get the joke. He doesn't know what the people are really saying, and the entire song and filming of the sequence is ENORMOUS. The entirety of this little burb of London is singing and mocking Scrooge. Compare that with the scene from the Muppets Christmas Carol, where Scrooge watches in as his maid sells his curtains. In the Muppets version (which I do believe is much closer to the written story, by the way) you watch as Scrooge starts to piece together that this is a future where he is dead, filling him with dread. But with "Thank You Very Much" he doesn't get that. Scrooge doesn't see that at all, he just goes along merrily, and the point loses all its nuance. And then he goes to hell.
Oh yeah, he goes to hell in Scrooge.
Albert Finney is really good ... but also is directed to be very broad. Everyone is. Everyone's acting is just as broad as can be. The nice people are the nicest. The mean people are the meanest. The jovial Scrooge at the end is big and just silly with joy! And that is ... boring. There isn't anything interesting, like with Uncle Scrooge from Mickey's Christmas Carol pretending to still be mean (again, a scene I do believe is in the original story) but having the hardest time because he is BURSTING WITH JOY! That bursting is like ... ok, here's the difference between the acting. Finney, in that final scene, is a bucket of joy. Just a whole bucket that is filled with joy, and you can see it. But Uncle Scrooge is a water hose of joy that is all kinked up as the joy builds up pressure trying to push its way out. And the Uncle Scrooge version is just plain old better and more interesting as acting.
I think Scrooge is a very average film, filled with large, broad brushstrokes of skill. It is not subtle, it is not realistic, and it loses all those little details that makes good adaptations of a Christmas Carol so great. Scrooge is in no way bad. But for me, it gets lost in the shuffle, and I cannot honest say that I really ever want to see it again. If it was on, I may watch part of it. But I'm much more likely to turn it off, or put on a version of a story I hate that actually ended up making me like the story.
Hey, guess what, tomorrow is CHRISTMAS! So you can beat I won't have any reviews for tomorrow or Friday, because CHRISTMAS! But, I will the next week start a whole week of 2014 in Review articles, including a special AMA about my favorite or opinion on "best" THINGS of the year! It'll be a hoot! It'll be wrestling, and tv, and movies, and randomness! And it'll be glorious! I'll see you guys on Monday for the BEST WRESTLING of 2014 review!