We’re back with another Disney+ Battle this holiday season. This week, we will be comparing two versions of the Charles Dickens’ literary classic, “A Christmas Carol.” This tale has been tackled through various different forms including straightforward, “The Flintstones,” an animated version starring Jim Carrey and one where Bill Murray stars as a disgruntled TV executive. This time we are going to compare two of the most family friendly; the Muppets and Mickey Mouse.
1. EBENEZER SCROOGE
The main character of “A Christmas Carol” is Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a miserable, old businessman who thinks only of himself and abhors charity. In the Muppets’ version, he’s played by acting legend Michael Caine who brings a gravitas to the role. He embodies Ebenezer Scrooge. In Mickey’s version, Scrooge McDuck takes up the mantle. Of all of Mickey’s friends, Uncle Scrooge is the only choice. McDuck is cute for kids for Caine shines in the role. He’s fearsome and his transformation is more inspiring. Point to the Muppets.
The Muppets Christmas Carol 1 | Mickey’s Christmas Carol 0
2. THE GHOST OF MARLEY
Jacob Marley is Ebenezer Scrooge’s old business partner who died years before. The Ghost of Marley shows up to warn Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits. In Mickey’s version, Goofy takes up the mantle of the Ghost of Jacob Marley. He’s funny, and is probably great for kids. However, Goofy doesn’t seem like the right fit for Marley’s reputation. Meanwhile, in the Muppets’ version, they made Scrooge have two partners, named Jacob and Robert Marley, who both had died. They were played by Statler and Waldorf. The pair are just as funny as Goofy, but their demeanor in previous Muppet productions makes them more believable as a funny version of Marley. Point to the Muppets.
The Muppets Christmas Carol 2 | Mickey’s Christmas Carol 0
3. THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST
Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits who help guide him to being a better man. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come show him how good he once was, how bad things are for others and how bad things will be for him if he doesn’t change. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a newly created Muppet that looks like a baby doll in the the Muppets’ version and Mickey’s version is Jiminy Cricket. The Muppet is quite frightening which is what you want from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but not necessarily from the Ghost of Christmas Past. Point to Mickey.
The Muppets Christmas Carol 2 | Mickey’s Christmas Carol 1
4. THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Ebenezer Scrooge what things are like at Bob Cratchit’s house during Christmas. That’s where Scrooge learns about Tiny Tim and his illness. This is where we see the biggest change in Scrooge’s demeanor. The Ghost of Christmas Present is literally a giant in both of these versions. The Muppets created an entirely new Muppets for the role based on puppeteer Jerry Nelson. Meanwhile, Mickey brings back Willie the Giant from “Mickey and the Beanstalk” to serve as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Unlike the new Muppet for the Ghost of Christmas Past that was a little too creepy, the Ghost of Christmas Present Muppet fits the role well. When it works, I like the creation of a new character over the recycled character. Point to the Muppets.
The Muppets Christmas Carol 3 | Mickey’s Christmas Carol 1
5. THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Ebenezer Scrooge his future. He’s going to be the richest man in the cemetery but no one will be coming to his funeral. The ghost also shows Scrooge the future for the Cratchits as Bob is mourning the death of Tiny Tim. In the Muppets, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come doesn’t speak. This spirit is appropriately creepy. Pete serves as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in Mickey’s version and he is appropriately creepy as well. Pete actually speaks and that makes him slightly more personable for the younger kids in the audience. But, this spirit should be creepy. Point to the Muppets.
The Muppets Christmas Carol 4 | Mickey’s Christmas Carol 1
The Muppets Christmas Carol wins this battle, but both bring a lot to the table. The obvious choices of Kermit and Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit come up strong in both versions. Donald makes an excellent nephew to Scrooge McDuck’s Ebenezer. It’s a better performance than the live action Fred in the Muppets. Mickey made a great decision in bringing in some characters from “Pinocchio,” “Fun and Fancy Free” and “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.” The Muppets created new Muppets specifically for the special, which worked out very well. Watch one. Watch both. They’re both a lot of fun.
Which version do you prefer to watch at Christmas?