Part OnePart TwoPart Three

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Kynan


Why didn’t they ever make a Statler-head door knocker? It would have sold like Statler-shaped hotcakes.
Danny


There’s a lot of neat camera angles in this. Gonzo looking down the barrel, looking up at Scrooge’s window. You have to give Brian credit for finding new ways to shoot Muppets. The whole movie looks great.

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Danny


It does take a serious turn for the gloomy, though. Scrooge is walking around in the dark, beating up his bathrobe. Apparently when he’s alone, he goes all LAPD on his laundry.
Kynan I only just thought of this, but I think Scrooge should have had a Muppet companion. Someone he could mutter to, who could Muppet up the slow scenes. Maybe a pet rat, or, I don’t know, make Beauregard his butler or something. Like Mandy Patinkin’s henchbug in Grouchland. Someone like that.
Danny


You’re using Grouchland as an example?
Kynan


I know, I’m on thin ice. Like the penguins! Thank you.

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Danny


Ah, but Statler and Waldorf are so lovely as the Marley ghosts. It’s a great effect and a terrific performance, really lively and spooky and awesome.
Kynan


Go Dave and Jerry. I love Statler and Waldorf, but the song is dull. It’s the Muppet song I skip on the CD. I don’t know why, there’s some good stuff in it, but it’s not catchy enough.
Danny


There’s an unfortunate trend developing: All the interesting things in the movie are happening around Scrooge. He’s constantly upstaged by the other characters, so the movie is only as good as whoever Scrooge is interacting with at the moment.
Kynan


That’s more a fault with Scrooge as a character than with the film. All the Christmas Carol adaptations are like that. Scrooge’s journey is entirely internal, so you don’t get a lot of action from him.
Danny


In the commentary, Brian goes on about what a faithful adaptation this is, but maybe it’s not such a good idea to just film a book word for word like this. Scrooge is a good main character for a novel, but he only works on screen if you make him more interesting.
Kynan


Or if he has a wisecracking sidekick, preferably played by Joey Mazzarino.

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Rizzo: “There’s only two things in this life that I hate: heights, and jumping from them.”
Danny


We’re so used to it now, it’s hard to remember what a revelation it was to see Gonzo and Rizzo together like this. That’s the real legacy of this movie, that Jerry Juhl discovered that Gonzo/Rizzo chemistry. Hey, they’re doing some serious full-contact narration here. How come you and I never break into people’s homes when we’re doing a commentary?
Kynan


You don’t? I’m on my Blackberry right now, inside Frank Oz’s study. (And you know what? There’s cookie crumbs everywhere.)

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Danny


The Ghost of Christmas Past is horrible. Everything about it is wrong. The voice, the hair, the dead-zone face. Everything. Christmas Past is as bad as Statler and Waldorf were good. If you showed me a picture of both, I’d never believe that they were in the same movie.
Kynan


It’s the Creature Shop from the Black Lagoon. Lovingly, painstakingly, state-of-the-artingly dull.

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Kynan


Hey, it’s Action Scrooge! Flying over the rooftops. It’s a bird, it’s a Caine.
Scrooge: “What is that light? It could not be dawn.”
Ghost: “It is the past.”
Danny


Oh. Well, that explains precisely nothing.
Kynan


Tell it to Dickens, baby. He wrote all that. Plus, he wrote “One More Sleep.”
Danny


So now Scrooge is watching himself as a boy… and Gonzo and Rizzo are watching Scrooge… and we’re watching Gonzo and Rizzo… and presumably the Tough Pigs readers are watching us. There’s like five levels of reality here.
Kynan


If you count Gonzo and Rizzo as “reality.” Or Tough Pigs readers, for that matter.
Danny


This is the Oprah moment, where we find out about Scrooge’s childhood trauma. Oprah should give him a car.

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Danny


I like Gonzo interrupting Sam. It’s a great fourth-wall moment, perfectly played. This would be such a nice movie if the Muppets were in it.

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Kynan


And Gonzo has boundless enthusiasm. He’s ready for anything. I have nothing funny to say about that; I just think he’s amazing.
Rizzo: “Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat!”
Danny


That’s lovely. Every Gonzo and Rizzo bit is a winner. Unfortunately, it feels like the good bits are distractions from the movie — they’re a value-add. There’s two different movies going on simultaneously, and only the dull one has a narrative.

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Danny


On the other hand, Animal yelling “QUIET!” doesn’t work at all — it’s just a reminder that Animal isn’t in the movie. You can get away with that in The Muppet Movie because Animal is featured; it makes sense that he can have that moment. This scene is just a series of walk-ons — Rowlf, the Swedish Chef. Even Fozzie is relegated to cameo status. I hate this scene.
Kynan


I hate this scene too, but I don’t have the same complaint about the Animal moment as you do. If they have to squeeze Animal in, that’s an understandable place to do it. You don’t want to go squeezing Animal, though. That’s a dangerous hobby.

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Danny


And now, the long slow slide. We’re 44 minutes in, and we get to the first big non-Muppet scene. Even Gonzo and Rizzo disappear for this one. And what do the humans do when they have a scene to themselves? They start talking about investments.
Scrooge: “Business continues to be poor. We’re barely clearing expenses.”
Danny


So Animal gets ten seconds, and then I have to watch people I don’t even know talk about their stock portfolio.
Kynan


The girl is moderately pretty, but there’s nothing to the relationship. She should have been a Muppet, or at least had a wisecracking Muppet sidekick.
Danny


“When Love Is Gone” is everything that’s wrong with this movie. What made them think that I wanted to see a character who we just met one scene ago singing a slow song about the end of a relationship we haven’t seen? I don’t even know this girl. All I know about her is that she dresses like Strawberry Shortcake and she can’t lip-synch. It’s such a shock — there was Sam, and Rizzo’s tail burning, and now all of a sudden it’s a full four minutes of Michael Caine and Strawberry Shortcake. Talk about a buzzkill.
Kynan


Hey, check it out — we’re doing comic relief because Gonzo and Rizzo have disappeared. We win this round.
Danny


Dude, she’s breaking up with him on Christmas. Harsh. That’s a waste of a present, at the very least. Hey, if Scrooge really cared that much about the girl, why didn’t he just say, okay, let’s get married?
Kynan


That was his mistake! He knows now that he should have done that. That’s the whole point of the movie. Are you even watching this?
Danny


Um. No?
Kynan


According to the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas is about loneliness, neglect, rejection and minor-key ballads. She’s not making a good case.
Danny


Maybe Christmas just sucks.

Screen shot 2011-08-05 at 12.07.02 PMby Danny Horn and Kynan Barker

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