Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

A Christmas Carol - Scrooge According to Jim


Review by Patrick Hodges

One of the main reasons that I am such a fan of animated films is so that I can marvel at how amazingly far the genre has come.  The advent of CGI, the rebirth of 3-D and the willingness of studios to spend untold millions of dollars on creating breathtaking visual spectacles has made witnessing the evolution of animation truly remarkable.  Even the old law that human beings can’t be made truly realistic in animated form – usually they are given disproportionately large heads or whatnot – no longer applies.

Make no mistake, the animation in A Christmas Carol is first-rate, as you might expect from Disney.  The depictions of human characters look as close to the real thing as there has ever been before, and the inclusion of the 3-D element made for a truly fantastic ride.


There may have been a time in my life when mere technological wizardry may have been enough to entertain me, to satisfy me.  However, those days are gone, and I find myself, when entering a theater, craving an entertaining story, no matter how many bells and whistles the animators throw at me.  And, I’m sorry to say, A Christmas Carol falls slightly short in this regard.

Everyone knows the classic Dickens tale of morality and redemption; we either read it in school or have seen some of the several dozens versions and spins to appear on both the small and large screens.  And there were many times during the course of this movie that I felt like the scenes were playing out as if Dickens himself had written the screenplay, with all of its dark and scary moments intact.  Even the dialogue felt like it had leapt straight from the pages of the book, and the character of Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) became exactly the character we expected.

However, right around the time of the appearance of the enormous, bearded Ghost of Christmas Present (also Carrey), I began to feel less like I was watching a Dickens story than a Carrey vehicle, as Carrey’s 1990’s bombastic shticks returned.  And later on, during the “Christmas Future” segment, there is a totally unnecessary scene where we see a miniaturized, squeaky-voiced Scrooge (yes, you read that right), being chased around the streets of London by giant demonic horses.  That scene detracted from the story, and served only as grandstanding and chest-thumping by the animators and director Robert Zemeckis.

If Pixar has proved anything, it is that there doesn’t have to be a huge chasm between fantastic animation and fantastic storytelling.  And while said chasm is much narrower with A Christmas Carol than with Zemeckis’s previous two animated outings (The Polar Express, Beowulf), it is still there, plain as day.  Maybe next time.

2 ½ / 5 stars

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