Animated and in 3D, Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday story, A Christmas Carol, spills onto screens again. A garish demonstration of the capabilities of the new 3D technology, the story only pops out when it possesses an opportunity to show off the technology.
Scrooge (Jim Carrey) is a miserly old man who holds tight each penny in his pocket. After his business partner, Marley (Gary Oldman) dies, Scrooge loses all perspective, turning even surlier than he was before. Devoid of all Christmas spirit, Scrooge tries to drain the spirit out of everyone around him. The spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come (All voiced and drawn to look like Jim Carrey) warn him about the consequences of inhospitality and holding on to his money too tightly.
Robert Zemeckis should hold his head in shame for such a disgusting display of technology driven plot. He both “wrote” and “directed” this version of “A Christmas Carol.” A responsible director-writer would make Marley, the Spirits and Scrooge feel like they within hands reach by re-arranging the 3D to places in the plot that are enhanced by the extra dimension. Instead, he created a masturbatory mess.
The plot is carved back to the bare minimum and stripped of all opportunity to connect with the audience emotionally. In fact, Zemeckis relies heavily on that fact that A Christmas Carol is so ubiquitous that he commits the sin of Cliff’s Notes. Taken on its face, having no prior knowledge of A Christmas Carol, a viewer would see it as shallow and infuriating. The plot is replaced with scenes meant to show off the remarkable 3D technology. 3D Scenes drone on twice as long as the plot they are supposed to enhance. The floor drops away, fingers are pointed at the audience, and characters are dangled from different angles. In fact, no opportunity to sacrifice the plot for the technology was missed.
Even still, the 3D is so good, it might have been fun to watch this tech demo if the voice acting was varied, interesting and sincere. It wasn’t. Jim Carrey plays Scrooge in all five stages of his life, as well as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future and he does it terribly. Scrooge lacks any depth, has no resonance, all changes seen seem forced and shallow. The Ghost of Christmas Past can only be appreciated by a herpetologist or a speech pathologist and I am neither of those. The Ghost of Christmas Present’s insipid laughter made me consider leaving the theater, but that would mean abandoning my mother-in-law in her seat, and even I’m not that mean. The only saving grace in Carrey’s performance is that the Ghost of Christmas Future barely talks.
Radio Disney brought teams of children to see A Christmas Carol at the press screening I attended. There were scenes that frightened the tiny so badly that they began to cry, scream and cuddle up in the arms of their mothers. There were times during A Christmas Carol I considered jumping into my mother-in-law’s lap and cry like a baby.
This may go down as a rumble worthy topic at family holiday parties because my hubby’s-mummy liked A Christmas Carol. I suggest instead of wasting money seeing such a despicable waste of a classic story, spend the same money seeing the play at a local theater.