Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Annotated Christmas Carol, Edited by Michael Patrick Hearn: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan


 The Annotated Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was edited by Michael Patrick Hearn. The edition I'm reviewing was published in 2004. It is illustrated by the original illustrator of A Christmas Carol, John Leech, et al. It consists of four major sections: 
  1. Introduction to The Annotated Christmas Carol
  2. The Annotated Christmas Carol
  3. Introduction to A Christmas Carol. In Four Staves
  4. A Christmas Carol. In Four Staves

The pages before the second section are numbered with lower case, Roman numerals. The Introduction to The Annotated Christmas Carol spans pages from xiii to cxiv (13 to 114, for those of you unfamiliar with Roman numerals); the previous pages include cover pages, Contents, Acknowledgments, et cetera. The introductions contain, essentially, information about three topics:

  1. A history of Christmas
  2. The life of Charles Dickens
  3. A history of the original and early editions of A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol. In Four StavesI is a copy of the 1867 edition, which was an abridged adaptation that Charles Dickens referred to while giving public readings of the novel. Included among the pages of The Annotated Christmas Carol and the abridged version are annotations, or footnotes, with explanations of archaic terms, and historical insights.

Test your knowledge of these topics by taking the following quizzes:

U N D E R  C O N S T R U C T I O N ! ! !

Test your knowledge of Christmas by taking these quizzes:

Quiz  1 of [T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  2 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  3 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  4 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  5 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  6 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  7 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  8 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  9 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Quiz  10 of
[T.B.D.] on Christmas

Test your knowledge of
Charles Dickens by taking these quizzes:

Quiz 1  of [T.B.D.] on The Life of Charles Dickens

Quiz 2
of [T.B.D.] on The Life of Charles Dickens

Test your knowledge of A Christmas Carol by taking these quizzes:

Quiz 1 of
[T.B.D.] on A Christmas Carol

Quiz 2 of
[T.B.D.] on A Christmas Carol

Quiz 3 of
[T.B.D.] on A Christmas Carol

Quiz 4 of
[T.B.D.] on A Christmas Carol

Quiz 5 of
[T.B.D.] on A Christmas Carol

Review and Quizzes by William Mortensen Vaughan



Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Muppet Christmas Carol: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

Title:  The Muppet Christmas Carol

Date and Location of First Release:  
FRI, 6 DEC 1992, U.S.A.

Stars:   Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge Gonzo as Charles Dickens
Meredith Braun as Belle Formats Reviewed:   the original, live-action, feature-length film, on DVD; 
the 50th Anniversary Edition, on DVD; and 
the 20th Anniversary Edition, on BluRay

My Rating:  *****(Favorite) Dove Foundation Rating:  Approved for All Ages
M.P.A.A. Rating:  G (General audiences – All ages admitted)
What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?   The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, 
that it's such a well done, humorous, musical Muppet movie! 
It comes as no surprise to me that many people consider it to be one of the best 
(albeit least "faithful") adaptations of A Christmas Carol.

Is this adaptation reverent? Why or why not?:   Yes. The song "Bless Us All" is a reverent prayer.
Who, if anyone, utters the phrase, "God bless us..."?   Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge say "God bless us" in the 
vision of Christmas Present and the finale, respectively. 

What does my wife think of it?  
She is not a fan of the Muppets or musicals.

When and where does this adaptation take place?   This adaptation takes place in London, after the year 1800. 
The Headmaster tells young Scrooge that he has an 
apprenticeship lined up for him in London. 
The Ghost of Christmas Present claims that he has 
more than 1,800 brothers.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?   Although Brian Henson claims, on the audio commentary track, that this adaptation 
is "the most faithful," it makes several drastic departures from the classic novel. 

Besides the fact that London is inhabited, in this adaptation, 
by talking and singing fruits, vegetables, animals, and Muppets, 
the first departure from the original novel, which a viewer might notice, 
is the presence of two Muppet narrators:  
Charles Dickens, played by Gonzo
and Rizzo the Rat. 
The original novel seems to be told from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, 
which would be, presumably, Charles Dickens; however, 
the narrator never identifies him- or herself by name.

Another drastic departure is the addition of Robert Marley, played by Waldorf.  
Statler plays Jacob Marley. Scrooge's door knocker transforms into Jacob's face. 
Later, the ghosts of Jacob and Robert Marley appear to Scrooge, in his chambers. 
The scene of other ghosts outside Scrooge's window is missing.

Yet another drastic departure is the absence of Fan. 
Also, instead of being rescued from the boarding school by his sister, Fan, 
in this adaptation, young Scrooge GRADUATES from his school. 
The Headmaster, played by Sam Eagle informs young Scrooge that he has an 
apprenticeship lined up for him, in London, and gives him a commencement speech, 
about business and "the American way," which, after Gonzo whispers in his ear, 
he rephrases as "the British way."

A humorous departure is that Mr. Fozziwig, played by Fozzie Bear
instead of Mr. Fezziwig, has, according to Scrooge, an "old rubber chicken factory." 
Fozziwig and his mother (instead of his wife) host a Christmas party. 
Scrooge's fellow apprentice, Dick Wilkins, is missing, but 
his "old business partners," young Robert and Jacob Marley, are present 
to heckle Mr. Fozziwig when he gives his Christmas speech. 

As with several other adaptations, this adaptation shows Scrooge, 
as an apprentice, meeting Belle (Meredith Braun) at this party, even though 
the original novel never indicates when or where Scrooge met Belle. 
Five actors are credited as "Young Scrooge," and 
none of them have a head shot on IMDb, so I have yet to ascertain which one 
played Scrooge as Mr. Fozziwig's apprentice and Belle's fiancé.

Instead of a fiddler, various Muppets play other instruments at the Christmas party, 
including a set of drums, a piano, a bass cello, and various wind instruments.

Other departures include the absence of Martha, and one of the other Cratchit children;
and naming one of the Cratchit daughters "Betina." 
Miss Piggy plays Mrs. Emily Cratchit, whose first name is never given in the original 
novel. She affectionately addresses her husband, Bob, played by Kermit the Frog
as "Cratchy," another name never used in the original novel. 
They have four children, instead of the six mentioned in the original novel:  
Peter, Belinda, Betina, and Tiny Tim. The original novel lists six:  
Martha, Peter, Belinda, Tiny Tim, and two "younger" siblings, who remain unnamed. 
No one named Betina is mentioned in the original novel.

Other characters not mentioned in the original novel 
(yet introduced in this less than faithful adaptation) 
include a white chicken, whom Gonzo introduces to Rizzo as "Louise"; 
a Christmas turkey named Martin; an unnamed cat, who chases Rizzo around 
the schoolyard; at least seven rats who work for Scrooge, alongside Bob; 
and an entire family of mice, to whom Scrooge gives a chunk of cheese wrapped 
in a red ribbon, for Christmas.

Which brings us to the day after Christmas, which is missing in this adaptaton, 
and the odd visits Scrooge pays his neighbors on Christmas... 
In the original novel, Scrooge anonymously sends a turkey to Bob's house 
on Christmas morning, but doesn't see him until Bob shows up late for work 
the next day. Instead, Scrooge has Christmas dinner with his nephew, Fred, 
and Fred's wife and guests.  In the original novel, Fred's wife remains unnamed, 
but in this adaptation, she is identified as "Clara." Scrooge stops by their home, 
on Christmas, in this adaptation, to give them presents, but does not stay for dinner. 
He also gives presents to Sam Eagle, and, as mentioned above, to the family of mice, 
although the original novel leaves readers to assume that the Headmaster is dead by 
the time Scrooge receives his ghostly visitations. Singing, talking rodents have a 
tendency to appear in adaptations such as this, as if people in the LIBERAL arts were 
obsessed with such vermin. 

Finally, Scrooge visits the Cratchits on Christmas, and tells Bob that 
he's going to give him a pay raise, AND pay his mortgage 
(the mention of which is another departure from the original novel). 
Scrooge personally presents Bob with the turkey, and has dinner with him 
instead of his nephew.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  
No.

Is this adaptation supernatural Why or why not?   Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring ghosts and time travel, 
not to mention talking fruits, vegetable, and animals.

Is this adaptation "framed"? If so, how?   Gonzo and Rizzo create the impression that it is framed within a lengthy conversation 
between the two of them, about Charles Dickens, who is being played, 
in this adaptation, by Gonzo.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included? This film includes several musical numbers, starring various muppets, Michael Caine, 
and Meredith Braun.  
Paul Williams wrote several original songs for this film; they include:

"Scrooge" (sung by the Muppets as Scrooge walks through the streets of London to his office)
"One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" (sung by Kermit, as Bob Cratchit)
"Marley and Marley" (sung by Statler and Waldorf, as Jacob and Robert Marley, respectively)
"Bless Us All" (sung by Tiny Tim, accompanied by the rest of the Cratchits)
"Thankful Heart" (sung by Michael Caine, after Scrooge's transformation, on Christmas morning)
"It Feels Like Christmas" (sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present)
"When Love Is Gone" (sung by Meredith Braun and Michael Caine, as Belle and Scrooge, respectively)
This last song is a particularly controversial topic of discussion. For one thing, Brian Henson alleges, in one of the "Bonus Features," that it is the first song Michael Caine sang for a film or television production.
More importantly, this duet is not found on the 20th Anniversary Edition on BluRay, and it is not readily apparent how to access it on original or 50th Anniversary Editions. As seen on Amazon reviews, Fans are not happy about this.
To access this song on the original and 50th Anniversary Editions, viewers need to select "Play," which takes them to a submenu with two options:  "Widescreen Theatrical Version" and "Full Screen Extended Version." Then they need to select the "Full Screen Extended Version," which includes the duet, "When Love Is Gone."
How attractive is the visual art?   The set, wardrobe, architecture, and art are, for the most part, excellent. 
Personally, I think the Ghost of Christmas Past looks unprofessional, unattractive, 
and "unfunny." Brian Henson explains that the "rod puppet" had a tendency to 
fall apart under water, where all but one of her scenes were filmed; 
her first scene was filmed in baby oil, but proved too difficult to keep clean, 
and was too expensive. 

However, I find the Ghost of Christmas Present to be exceptionally well made and 
hilarious; I find it hard to imagine anyone watching his performance without laughing, 
or at least smiling. 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is satisfactory. 
Marley and Marley are also hilarious. 
Miss Piggy and Kermit are ideal Muppets for their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?   The transitions are varied and effective, using swirling video effects in and out, 
fading to white, rapid night to day transitions; falling from one scene into another, 
fog, and sound effects.
What nap-of-the-earth footage, if any, is included?   I especially like the panning view of London's rooftops during the opening credits. 
It is also amusing to see Gonzo and Rizzo dragged, air assault style, 
through the woods, dangling from Scrooge's robe, as the Ghost of Christmas Past flies, 
with Scrooge, like Superman, into a light on the horizon, and back, in time, 
to Scrooge's boarding school.

What use is made of background extras?   Plenty of background extras are used effectively, including humans and Muppets, 
in London street scenes, at Fred and Fozziwig's Christmas Parties, and 
at the penguins' skating party. Some extras sing and/or dance. 
Some featured extras have speaking parts; for examples, 
a pumpkin complains that it is being stolen; 
and a vendor tells his Christmas turkey to "get back in the box."

What extras are included on the DVD and BluRay?  
(See below.)

What are the differences between the various editions of 
The Muppet Christmas Carol 
on DVD and BluRay?:  
A 25th Anniversary Edition was released as a download for sale or rent on Amazon.com
but I haven't seen any other version of that edition mentioned anywhere; 
it was apparently not released on any type of disc.

I own three copies of this film on DVD and BluRay:  
an original edition, on DVD; 
a 50th Anniversary Edition, on DVD; 
and a 20th Anniversary Edition, on BluRay
The BluRay came with a Digital Copy, the support for which seems to be outdated; 
it is, essentially, a coaster. 
The 50th Anniversary Edition is, as far as I can tell, a copy of the original edition, 
with different labels and packaging to commemorate the anniversary. 
The differences which I've discovered between these editions and the 
20th Anniversary Edition are as follows: 
Differences Between Editions of The Muppet Christmas Carol

Original/50th Anniversary*| 20th Anniversary*
Format:   DVD BluRay
Autoplay:   Autoplays ads (The Lady & the Tramp, et al) Autoplays ads (Wreck-It Ralph, et al)
Menu Availability:   The Main Menu is available at any time. The Main Menu is available at any time, after a pre-menu menu.
Menu Appearance:   The Main Menu looks like the multi-paned window in Scrooge's office; Kermit nags viewers to make a selection. The Main Menu is a vertical band on the left side of the screen. Initially, it is on top of a view of London's rooftops, with relaxing, instrumental background music. If accessed during the film, the film keeps playing under it.
Scene Selection:   Scene Selection is available on the Main Menu. Scene Selection is available on the Main Menu. Play from where you left off is automatically suggested upon start-up - even AFTER removing the disc, turning the BluRay player off, and putting the disc back in!
Widescreen or Full Screen:   must be selected after selecting "Play." is selected automatically.
"Setup" "Audio" Options:   A French audio track is available. French and Spanish audio tracks are available.
"Setup" "Captions" Options:   English captions are available. English, French, and Spanish captions are available.
"Bonus Features":   "Outtakes and Bloopers:  On the Set Gag Reel" "Outtakes and Bloopers:  On the Set Gag Reel"

"Pepe Profiles Present - Gonzo:  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo" "Pepe Profiles Present - Gonzo:  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo"

"Christmas Around the World" [Australia, Czechoslovakia, France, Sweden, and England] "Christmas Around the World" [Australia, Czechoslovakia, France, Sweden, and England]

Audio Commentary track with the Director, Brian Henson Audio Commentary track with the Director, Brian Henson

N/A Audio Commentary track with Kermit, Gonzo, and Rizzo

N/A Subtitles for Audio Commentary track with the Director**

N/A "Frogs, Pigs, and Humbug:  Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic [an interview with the Director, Brian Henson]
Intermission:   N/A After the film is paused for a certain number of seconds, silly vignettes begin playing. This option can be turned off from the Menu. 


*In 2005, a 50th Anniversary Edition was released, to commemorate Kermit's debut on the television series "Sam & Friends," in 1955. In 2012, a 20th Anniversary Edition was released to commemorate the release of the film, The Muppet Christmas Carol, in 1992. 

**On the BluRay, there are subtitles for the Director's monologue, during his Audio Commentary. As on the DVD editions, the subtitles for the film may be turned on for the Director's Audio Commentary on the BluRay edition; however, there are also subtitles for the Director's monologue. To access them, viewers must toggle the subtitles on before playing the Audio Commentary. If subtitles are selected "on the fly," the subtitles which appear will simply be the ones for the film itself. NOTE:  When the Director isn't heard, the movie dialogue is heard, and the corresponding subtitles appear, but, when his voice is heard again, the subtitles reflect what he's saying instead of the the film's dialogue.

____________________________________________________________

U N D E R  C O N S T R U C T I O N ! ! ! ! !

____________________________________________________________

Test your knowledge of this film by taking these quizzes:

Quiz  1 of 10

Quiz  2 of 10

Quiz  3 of 10

Quiz  4 of 10

Quiz  5 of 10

Quiz  6 of 10

Quiz  7 of 10

Quiz  8 of 10

Quiz  9 of 10

Quiz  10 of 10

Test your knowledge of the original, 50th Anniversary, and 20th Anniversary editions of this film by taking these quizzes:

Quiz 1 on Original, 50th, 20th, and 25th Anniversary Editions of 2

Quiz 2 on Original, 50th, 20th, and 25th Anniversary Editions of 2

Test your knowledge of the Director's audio commentary on this film by taking these quizzes:

Quiz 1 of 5

Quiz 2 of 5

Quiz 3 of 5

Quiz 4 of 5

Quiz 5 of 5

Review and Quizzes by William Mortensen Vaughan

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Stingiest Man in Town: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

 Title(s)The Stingiest Man in Town

AdaptationFeaturing the voices of as Ebenezer Scrooge, and as B.A.H. Humbug

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
SAT, 23 DEC 1978 U.S.A.
 
My Rating****(Recommended)

Format Reviewed
animated film, on DVD
 
Runtime:  1 hour 
 
Availability:  
As of December 11, 2021, copies of this film, on VHS, are available, online, for approximately $20 U.S. Dollars.

Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?" 
Yes, Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"

Is this adaptation reverent? 
Yes, it includes a song dedicated to Baby Jesus.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?
Yes (see above).

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She likes it, but thinks B.A.H. Humbug is kind of creepy.

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
Victorian England.
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
Plain English.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well.  It is narrated by a tiny man (tinier than Tim) with antennae on his forehead, named B.A.H. Humbug (voice of Tom Bosley).  It shows Scrooge (Walter Matthau) being stingy with Bob Cratchit (Sonny Melendrez), and the coal he uses.  
 
Fred visits him at his office, and invites him to Christmas Dinner at his house the next day.  In this adaptation, Fred gives Scrooge a bouquet of poinsettias and a giftwrapped necktie.  Scrooge opens the present and angrily throws the tie at Bob.

On Scrooge's way home, B.A.H. Humbug sings about Scrooge being so stingy he uses lightning bugs rather than buying matches from a matchstick girl (borrowed, apparently, from the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen).

Jacob Marley appears to Scrooge, and shows him other spirits with chains, outside Scrooge's window.

Then the Ghost of Christmas Past appears, as an old man in a white tunic with gold trim, and shows Scrooge Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas Ball, where a younger Scrooge dances with Belle, and then the scene in which Belle breaks off their engagement to be married.  The scenes with Scrooge as a boy in school are skipped.

Then the Ghost of Christmas Present appears in a green robe with white trim, as in the novel.  He shows Scrooge the homes of Bob and Fred.  Tiny Tim asks his big sister, Martha, if there is a Santa Claus.  She sings to him a song about Santa Claus, in which the Ghost of Christmas Present's robe is transformed into a red suit with white trim.  

There is also a song about Baby Jesus.

After Scrooge sings a song about Tiny Tim to the Ghost of Christmas Present, this ghost disappears, and is replaced by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who shows Scrooge a woman at old Joe's Pawn shop.  She shows Joe items she stole from a dead man, but neither she nor Joe specify which items those are.

Then the Ghost shows Ebenezer his tombstone, which transforms itself into a red demon, as Scrooge promises to change.

Then Scrooge finds himself in his room on Christmas morning, and sends a boy to buy the biggest turkey at the butcher shop, and trusts him to deliver it to Bob Cratchit himself, rather than bringing the poulterer back, and giving the poulterer money for the turkey and a cab.

Then Scrooge goes Christmas shopping, and the boy with the turkey arrives at Bob's with the turkey in his arms, and an entourage of people with presents.  Scrooge has dinner with Fred and his wife, and the people at their Christmas Dinner Party.

The next day, Scrooge catches Bob coming to work late, but raises his pay, and visits him at his house.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  
No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this film features ghosts, time travel, and talking animals.

Is this adaptation "framed"?  
Yes, this adaptation is framed by the narration of B.A.H. Humbug, a bug-sized little man with antennae.

Is this adaptation a musical?  
Yes.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
Music by Fred Spielman... This adaptation is a musical comedy, including songs by virtually every character, including songs about Santa Claus and Baby Jesus. As stated above, Tiny Tim asks his big sister, Martha, if there is a Santa Claus.  She sings to him a song about Santa Claus, in which the Ghost of Christmas Present's robe is transformed into a red suit with white trim.  

There is also a song about Baby Jesus.

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The art is adequate.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are entertaining, with scenes of flights over London.
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  
(See above.)   
 
What use is made of background extras?  
N/A

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the narration by B.A.H. Humbug, a tiny man with antennae.  It is also unique in that it includes original songs about Scrooge, Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, and Christmas.
 

What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD? 
My copy of this film on DVD, has optional subtitles in English.  It comes on Disc 1 of 4 in a set titled Classic Christmas Favorites.  
 
Disc 1 includes Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold, and Pinocchio's Christmas, as well as The Stingiest Man in Town.  It also includes four featurettes:  "Making Animation and Bringing It to Life," "Dr. Seuss and the Grinch:  From Whoville to Hollywood," "Songs in the Key of Grinch," and a "Making-of Featurette and Pencil Test," as well as an audio commentary with Animator Phil Roman, and the voice of Cindy Lou, June Foray.

Disc 2 includes The Year Without a Santa Claus (Deluxe Edition), Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey.  It also includes two featurettes:  "We Are Santa's Elves," and "Stop Motion 101."

Disc 3 includes Frosty's Winter Wonderland and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Disc 4 includes Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July.

Test your knowledge of this adaptation by taking these quizzes:

Quiz  1 of T.B.D.

Quiz  2 of T.B.D.
 
Quiz  3 of T.B.D.
 
Quiz  4 of T.B.D.
    
Review and quizzes by William Mortensen Vaughan

Friday, December 10, 2021

A Christmas Carol, Featuring the Voice of Tim Curry: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

 

Title(s)A Christmas Carol

AdaptationFeaturing the voice of Tim Curry as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Whoopi Goldberg as The Spirit of Christmas Present

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
SAT, 20 DEC 1997 U.S.A.
 
My Rating**(Substandard)

Format Reviewed
animated film, on DVD
 
Runtime:  1 hours 12 minutes 
 
Availability:  
As of December 10, 2021, copies of this film, on DVD and VHS, are available, online, for approximately $10 U.S. Dollars.

Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?" 
Yes. Scrooge and Tiny Tim say, in unison, "God bless us, everyone!"

Is this adaptation reverent? 
Yes.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?
Yes (see above).

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She doesn't "think it's very memorable."

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
Victorian England
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
Plain English

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well, but gives old Scrooge a dog, named Debit.
 
A child begs at the door of Scrooge's counting house before Fred arrives, without singing "God Rest You Merry Gentleman" as described by Dickens.  Instead of threatening the child with a ruler, as Dickens describes, Scrooge throws coal at him, then sends Cratchit to retrieve the coal, which Cratchit hands him after Fred has left, while the gentlemen collecting donations are still in the counting house.  Scrooge places the lumps of coal in the bucket, and locks the bucket in a safe.

This adaptation includes the scene at a place Dickens describes as Scrooge's "usual, melancholy tavern," which some versions exclude.  Although Dickens mentions Scrooge having dinner at his "usual melancholy tavern," reading "all the newspapers" and "[beguiling] the rest of the evening with his banker's-book,"
Dickens does not mention anyone else being at the tavern.  Dickens leaves it to the reader's imagination to create a waiter or waitress, and/or any other customers.  This adaptation shows a tavern full of people, with a redheaded waitress who performs a song and dance routine.

Young Scrooge has a cat in this version.  He sees Robinson Crusoe, as mentioned in the novel, but, instead of Ali Baba and the other characters Dickens mentions, Scrooge, in this adaptation, sees himself as a matador, and as King Arthur, removing the sword from the stone.

In this adaptation, in the scene where young Scrooge is older, but still in the boarding school, his sister comes and removes him from the school without their father's permission, unlike in Dickens' original novel, in which Fan tells Scrooge that their father sent her to bring him home in a carriage.

Although many film adaptations show Scrooge with Belle at Fezziwig's Christmas Ball, Dickens makes no mention of Belle until he describes the scene in which she breaks off her engagement to marry Scrooge.  In this adaptation, Belle does not appear at Fezziwig's Christmas Ball, but only appears later, when she releases Scrooge from his promise to marry her.

The Ghost of Christmas Present in this version is a black woman, who refers to her sisters, instead of her brothers, unlike Dickens' white, male Ghost of Christmas Present, who refers to more than eighteen hundred of his brothers.

On Christmas morning, the new Scrooge has Fred and his wife meet him at Cratchit's for dinner, to which he unexpectedly invites himself, instead of waiting for the day after Christmas to tell Cratchit about raising his salary.  This is unlike the original novel, in which Dickens has Scrooge anonymously send the Cratchits a turkey on Christmas Day, going later to Fred's for Christmas Dinner, and not seeing Bob Cratchit again until the day after Christmas, when Bob arrives late, and Scrooge rewards his tardiness with a pay raise.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  
No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this film features ghosts and time travel.

Is this adaptation "framed"?  
Yes, this adaptation is framed by a narrator.

Is this adaptation a musical?  
No.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
Music by John Campbell... Several musical numbers are included, such as the song and dance routine in the tavern, which does not seem the least bit melancholy, contrary to Dickens' description.

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The art and animation are adequate.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
(The transitions are adequate.
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  
N/A 
 
What use is made of background extras?  
N/A

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The addition of Debit the dog is, perhaps, the most remarkable thing about this adaptation.
 

What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD? 
There are no extras on this DVD.  This film plays automatically, and I can't even find a menu or splash screen for it.

Test your knowledge of this adaptation by taking these quizzes:

Quiz  1 of T.B.D.

Quiz  2 of T.B.D.
 
Quiz  3 of T.B.D.
 
Quiz  4 of T.B.D.
    
Review and quizzes by William Mortensen Vaughan

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Mistletoe Promise: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan


 Title(s)The Mistletoe Promise, a.k.a. Mein Fake Date

AdaptationStarring as Elise Donnor, and as Nick (the Scrooge)

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
SAT, 5 NOV 2016 U.S.A.
 
My Rating*****(Favorite)

Format Reviewed
live-action film, on DVD
 
Runtime:  1 hour and 24 minutes 
 
Availability:  
As of December 4, 2021, a few, secondhand and/or perhaps pirated copies of this film, on DVD, are available, online, for approximately $20 U.S. Dollars.

Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?" 
No.

Is this adaptation reverent? 
No, this adaptation is not particularly reverent.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?
No.

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She thinks it's "cute" and "unobjectionable," and she "really like[s] it."

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
The northeastern U.S.A., circa 2015... There is no indication, in this film, which city or State is the primary location. However, four of the principal characters go to a "local" television broadcasting station identified as a fictitious WKJS (not to be confused with WKJX, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina), which indicates that their location is in the U.S.A., and east of the Mississippi River, because stations west of the Mississippi River begin with the letter "K." For example, KSL is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. These and other  characters participate in an annual snowman-making contest outside in the snow, and heavy snowfall seems to be common in the area, so it is probably a northeastern State, such as New York, but not New York City, since some of the characters fly, from the primary location, to New York City, for an annual, company Christmas party.
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
American English

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation does not follow the original novel very closely. It could be argued that there are two "Scrooges," in this adaptation:  Elise Donnor and Nick. They form a club of two for "Christmas phobes." However, Elise is not really a "Scrooge"; she loves Christmas, and identifies herself as "one hundred percent Tiny Tim," but Christmas has been painful for her since her divorce four years "ago." Her ex-husband, Dan (played by Lochlyn Munro) was her partner in a travel agency which she founded before their marriage, and he remains her partner, but Dan is constantly trying to persuade her to sell him her stock in their company so that he can own and operate it by himself. It could be argued that he is a "Scrooge," which he is, but, in my opinion, he is not "the Scrooge."

I consider Nick to be "the Scrooge." He, like Elise, finds Christmas painful, but he is the one who mentions three "ghosts" of Christmas in his past, and he seems to have given up on Christmas altogether, whereas Elise is the one who shows him how to enjoy it again.

None of the "ghosts" of Christmas in this film are ghosts or people; instead, they are all past experiences in Nick's life, which, understandably, led him to dread Christmas. He reveals these "ghosts" to Elise one at a time throughout the film.  
 
The first and most recent "ghost," which he reveals, is that he was fired near Christmas, and blackballed by his previous employer (a law firm), because he questioned a senior partner's practice of illegally overlooking conflicts of interests.

The second and earliest "ghost," which Nick reveals, is the occasion, near Christmas, when his father abandoned him and his mother, when he was six years old. This occasion was followed up with a stepfather who put him in a boarding school, like Scrooge's father put Scrooge in a boarding school.

The third "ghost," which Nick reveals, which occurred between being abandoned by his father, and being fired and blackballed by his previous employer, was on what would have been his wedding day, if his bride hadn't "stood him up at the altar," to flee with her father, instead of saying "I do."

Although she identifies herself as "one hundred percent Tiny Tim," Elise is more like Marley - a business partner who dreads Christmas like Nick, but who shows him the error of his ways.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  
No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
No.

Is this adaptation "framed"?  
No.

Is this adaptation a musical?  
No.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
Music by Russ Howard III... Carolers at a food court, in the mall where Elise goes to eat wonton soup, go from table to table, singing for the guests, accompanied by a guitar. Their repertoire includes "Jingle Bells," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "Deck the Halls."

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The set, wardrobe, and art are adequate. Wherever I'm "at," in the film, I feel as if I were there.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are adequate. I would have liked to see more flashbacks, especially to Nick's negative, Christmas experiences.
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  
There is some excellent stock footage of New York City, as seen from above, which is presented as if it were the view from Elise's hotel room.  
What use is made of background extras?  
Adequate use is made of background extras. There are plenty of people at the offices where Elise and Nick work, as well as at the parties they attend.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, that the "ghosts" of Christmas are experiences, rather than individual ghosts or people. Furthermore, I am a fan of Jaime King, especially since I almost met her in San Juan, Puerto Rico, so I was delighted to find an adaptation of A Christmas Carol in which she played a starring role. As far as I'm concerned, this is the "James King Adaptation."
 

What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD? 
No bonus material is included on my DVD copy of this film - not even subtitles.

Test your knowledge of this adaptation by taking these quizzes:

Quiz 1 of T.B.D.

Quiz 2 of T.B.D.
 
Quiz 3 of T.B.D.
 
Quiz 4 of T.B.D.
    
Quiz 5 of T.B.D.
    
Quiz 6 of T.B.D.
    
Quiz 7 of T.B.D.
    
Quiz 8 of T.B.D.
    
Review and quizzes by William Mortensen Vaughan