Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Alvin's Christmas Carol(1993), Featuring the Voice of Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleAlvin's Christmas Carol

AdaptationFeaturing the voice of Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. as "the Scrooge," Alvin "the Chipmunk" Seville

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
WED, 29 SEP 1993 U.S.A.
 
My Rating****

Format Reviewed
animated film, on VHS and the 25th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition DVD, titled A Chipmunk Christmas
 
Runtime:  66 minutes
 
Availability:  
As of February 16, 2021, copies of this film, on VHS, are available, online, for approximately $15 U.S. Dollars. The 25th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition DVD, titled A Chipmunk Christmas, is available for approximately $75 U.S. Dollars.

Is this adaptation reverent? 
No, this adaptation is not particularly reverent.  There doesn't seem to be any emphasis on Christ or God, but plenty of emphasis on commercialism, and family and friends.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?  
No, this adaptation does not mention God or Christ, except in the word "Christmas."
 
Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?"  No.

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
My wife cried when Mr. Ferrell explained to Ebenezer how much his newspaper meant to him.

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
Los Angeles, California, circa 1990.
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
A "Chipmunk" dialect of English.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation does not follow the original novel very well.  The dynamics between "the Scrooge" and a "Cratchit," "Belle," "Fezziwig," "Fred," and "Marley" are all missing.  Alvin the Chipmunk is "the Scrooge," but he's essentially a schoolboy with a newspaper route.  He selfishly writes a long list of items he expects his human grandparents to give him for Christmas, and is disappointed when his human "father" makes him deliver his newspapers, and he fails to make it to the mailbox in time to mail his Christmas wish list to his grandparents so they'll be able to get him what he wants in time for Christmas.

He has procrastinated writing an essay for school about the true meaning of Christmas, so, on Christmas Eve, he starts writing, but passes out before completing the task.  

While Alvin is asleep, Dave, his human father, appears to him in a dream, as the Spirit of Christmas Past.  Then his chipmunk brothers appear to him as the other Spirits of Christmas Present and Yet to Come.  No one appears to him in lieu of Jacob Marley.

Mr. Carroll, an elderly man on Alvin's paper route, has a cat named Ebenezer.

Alvin fails to ensure that Mr. Ferrell has his newspaper on Christmas morning.  But, after his dreams, he has a change of heart, and starts putting everyone else first, and delivers a newspaper to Mr. Carroll.
 
Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
No, this adaptation is not supernatural; the spirits are merely elements of Alvin's dreams.  It is somewhat odd, however, that these chipmunks, Alvin, Theodore, and Simon, talk and sing.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"?
  No. 

Is this adaptation a musical?  No.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
(Music by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker; music editing by Nick Carr and Paul Ray... The Chipmunks sing their versions of "The Christmas Song" and "Christmas Time Is Here," which are apparently written especially for them to sing.

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The set, wardrobe, and art 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?  
Such inadequate use is made of animated background extras, that I thought the Chipmunks lived in "a small town" until I did enough research to discover that their home is in Los Angeles.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, that Alvin is the only "Scrooge" whom I've seen, who is a child with no employees, previous engagements to be married, or wealth.  He's merely a selfish brat.
 
What bonus material is included on the DVD? 
The DVD includes this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, titled "Merry Christmas Mr. Carroll," and two other "episodes," titled "A Chipmunk Christmas" and "Dave's Wonderful Life."

Episode selection is available.

"Original Artwork From A Chipmunk Christmas" is included, in the form of a slideshow of images.
 
A separate music CD [Compact Disc] is also included, with the following eleven songs:

  1. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
  2. "Chipmunk Jingle Bells"
  3. "The Chipmunk Song"
  4. "The Spirit of Christmas"
  5. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
  6. "Crashcup's Christmas"
  7. "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)"
  8. "Silent Night"
  9. "Sleigh Ride"
  10. "Deck the Halls"
  11. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
Review by William Mortensen Vaughan


Nutcracker: A Christmas Carol (1992): Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

 TitleNutcracker: A Christmas Story

AdaptationStarring Marc Wenke, and featuring the Bonn Ballet

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
1992 Germany
2007 U.S.A.
 
My Rating*(Offensive)

Format Reviewed
live-action film, on DVD
 
Runtime:  59 minutes
 
Availability:  
As of February 16, 2021, copies of this film, on DVD, are available, online, for approximately $15 U.S. Dollars.

Is this adaptation reverent? 
Not particularly.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?   
No, there is no singing or talking in this adaptation, just instrumental music, dancing, acting, and pantomiming.
 
Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?"   
No.

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She hates musicals, and refuses to watch any part of this adaptation.

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

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation does not follow the original novel very well.  It's hard to follow at all.  It's a combination of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. Fortunately, it is filmed with credits as subtitles for four of the actors:  Marc Wenke, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge; Paul Boyd (Bob Cratchit); Joyce Cuoco (Clara Cratchit); and Anna Vita (Mrs. Cratchit).  Also fortunate, is that the DVD comes with a program which lists scene selections, to help the viewer understand what they're looking at.

The story begins in a town with several buildings, where men dressed like British soldiers dance ballet in the streets.  One of the buildings has a sign which reads "Drosselmeyer Toys"; another reads "Scrooge and Marley Investment Co."  Marley's name is crossed out.  I think the gist of this scene is that, while Bob treasures newspaper to burn, Scrooge treasures the currency he counts in his counting house.

Another scene shows Scrooge going to bed at 9:30, after checking the safe in his home.  At midnight, he receives a rude awakening by the Devil and his minions, who put him in chains.  There are a couple glimpses of a man whom I presume is Jacob Marley.

Then a young woman with gray hair shows up and sends the Devil and his minions away.  Then another young woman dances with a young man.  I'm guessing this is young Scrooge with his fiancĂ©e.

Another scene shows Scrooge getting nine girls out of one bed and giving them Christmas presents.  Spanish and Russian
dances are performed, as well as a Thai long nail dance.  Harlequins dance around a young woman dressed like a clown in a box.  

Back in town, finally, there is a grand finale.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  
No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, with at least one ghost, the Devil, demons, and at least one goddess or angel, who banishes them.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"?  
Yes, this adaptation is framed as a man's dreams.

Is this adaptation a musical?  
Yes.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
This is a musical, by Tchaikovsky, and a ballet, with several international influences, including Russian, Spanish, and Thai.

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The set, wardrobe, and art are excellent.  I found the extra wide, rolling, twirling bed particularly amazing!

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are well done.  I don't remember any annoying special effects, but the camera work and film editing are excellent.  For example, the head shots of the principle actors with subtitles to indicate their names and the names of the characters they play...  Also, the camera zoomed in on the signs on the buildings, and on the clock to show time advancing more quickly than in reality, and what time it was...
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  
N/A  
 
What use is made of background extras?  
Adequate use is made of background extras.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable things about this adaptation are, perhaps, that it doesn't include any singing or talking, and that it's a combination of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.
 

What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD? 
Scene selection is available on the DVD, and a hard copy program is included.

Quiz 5 on An American Christmas Carol (1979), Starring Henry Winkler

 1.  What is the first and last name of the person who is injured in a fire at the factory where "the Scrooge" worked as a boy, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?



 2.  Why did the owner of the factory where "the Scrooge" worked as a boy, go out of business, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?



 3.  Approximately how much time elapsed between the time "the Scrooge" left his home town, and the time he returned, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?



 4.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, what probably caused the fire at the factory where "the Scrooge" worked as a boy?



 5.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, when "the Scrooge" didn't believe that "the Marley" was "the Marley," what did "the Marley" tell him that only the two of them knew?



 6.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, when "the Scrooge" didn't believe that "the Marley" was "the Marley," what type of weapon did "the Scrooge" brandish?



 7.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, when "the Scrooge" didn't believe that "the Marley" was "the Marley," what film character did "the Scrooge" mention, to "the Marley," as an example of what can be accomplished with make-up?



 8.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, when "the Scrooge" didn't believe that "the Marley" was "the Marley," "the Scrooge" tells "the Marley" about a film; what film must that have been?



 9.  What are the first and last names of "the Fezziwig," in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?



10.  What did "the Scrooge" give "the Fezziwig" for Christmas, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

Answers were published on February 22, 2021.

Quiz by William Mortensen Vaughan

Answers to Quiz 4 on An American Christmas Carol (1979), Starring Henry Winkler

  1.  Where was the company located, where "the Scrooge" moved when he left the shop where he worked as a child, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

Grand Rapids, Michigan


 2.  What are the first and last names of "the Belle," in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

Helen Brewster

 3.  What are the first and last names of "the Mrs. Cratchit," in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

Doris Thatcher

 4.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, "the Scrooge" and "the Belle" dance together as if they were imitating birds. What were these kinds of dances called, and when were they popular?

Animal Dances, 1920s

 5.  In this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, "the Scrooge" and "the Belle" dance together as if they were imitating birds. The song being played as they dance this way sounds like a popular song viewers are more likely to have heard; what song is that, and when was it first released?

"The Entertainer," copyright December 29, 1902, by Scott Joplin

 6.  What was the name of "the Scrooge's" employee, other than "the Cratchit," in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

Joe

 7.  What war was being waged, when "the Scrooge" returned to his home town, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

World War II

 8.  How much money does "the Belle" try to raise, by selling Liberty Bonds, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

$25,000

 9.  How much money does "the Scrooge" use to purchase Liberty Bonds, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

$850

10.  How much money does "the Belle" raise, by selling Liberty Bonds, before "the Scrooge" buys his, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, before "the Scrooge" makes his purchase?

$24,150

 

Quiz and answers by William Mortensen Vaughan