Disney proves once again that they are at the top of their field in holiday movies with "A Christmas Carol," written and directed by Robert Zemeckis ("The Polar Express").
"A Christmas Carol " tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter accountant who lacks the abundant Christmas spirit displayed by his acquaintances. On Christmas Eve, four ghosts visit Scrooge to warn him of his fate if he continues to treat mankind unfairly. Jim Carrey ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), in addition to voicing Scrooge, also voices the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
The only big-name in the film, Carrey’s voice is initially a bit irritating, but eventually grows on the viewer by the middle of the film. Despite being animated, Carrey’s true serious acting skills are seen in Scrooge. He is able to capture the essence of the different stages of Scrooge’s life; from a young boy forgotten by his family to a middle-aged man whose wife has left him. Carrey builds on the emotional impact that each event has had on Scrooge’s life, leading him to become a coldhearted man who is afraid to care for other people lest they leave him like others in his life have done. Carrey adequately changes to fit the mental state Scrooge is in.
While Zemeckis takes advantage of the 3-D technique, he does go a bit overboard sometimes. Sweeping shots of buildings are effective, but by the third or fourth time, they lose their purpose.
3-D is ill-used again at the end of the movie during a dramatic chase scene, where the ghost of the future is trying desperately to catch Scrooge and bring him to his grave.
Scrooge winds his way through London’s narrow streets, If the scene was cut in half, it would have been more effective. Instead it drags on to the brink of boredom.
Despite being advertised as a kid’s movie, "A Christmas Carol" does not shy away from the darker parts of the original story. The ghost of the present, while originally jolly, becomes cryptic at the end of his scenes with Scrooge. He is flanked by two smaller ghosts, named Want and Need, who represent the prisons and poor houses that Scrooge supports.
The film also tries a bit too hard to appeal to adults and children. The bits of humor added during otherwise serious scenes end up being more of a distraction and less funny. The film should have chosen one particular audience to appeal to and zeroed in, instead of trying to include every age group.
The most endearing character in the film is Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s assistant. Voiced by Gary Oldman ("The Dark Knight"), Bob Cratchit is lighthearted and embodies all that Scrooge cannot at the beginning of the film. Oldman is able to transfer the love that Cratchit has for his family in his tone. He is also able to transfer the regret that Cratchit feels for not being able to heal his youngest son, Tiny Tim.
As the first holiday movie of the season, "A Christmas Carol" does a great job of setting the bar for other seasonal films.