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A Christmas Carol
© 2006 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company.
Reviewed by: Diane Parsons

Based on the novel by: Charles Dickens
Director: David Jones
Cast: Patrick Stewart B, Richard E. Grant
Rating: NR
2 1/2 Beans Out of 5

Scrooge and Marley at the Club?

I bought the video “A Christmas Carol” starring Patrick Stewart. It was a purchase of faith - blind but hopeful. I remembered hearing that Stewart was, before his stint into the galaxy and beyond, a serious, English actor of classic stage plays you know Shakespeare and all that. So, with a story by Dickens and an actor like Stewart, how could I go wrong?

In this new version, I kept hoping Stewart could be more genuine. For instance, he doesn't convince me that he is even afraid of Bob Marley when said ghost rattles his way up to the bedroom. Stewart actually turns the conversation casual, like he and Marley are having lunch at the club.

Bob Cratchitt is satisfactorily scruffy and downtrodden and Scrooge’s nephew is believable and hearty. The woman Scrooge dumps for money is lovely and believable too and I like the rag and bones man who buys the bed curtains and linens. There isn’t a convincing child actor amongst the lot from Fran as a girl through the entire sundry Cratchitts, ending with Tiny Tim. Granted, it takes a hell of an actor to carry off now-cliché lines like “God bless us….well you know the one.

Two aspects of any version of The Christmas Carol that will make it or break it for me are 1. the scariness of the Ghost of Christmas Future, and 2. how giddy Mr. Scrooge is after the visitations are finished. Both criteria fall at the end of the story so I watch in contemplation. Said ghost in the Stewart version looks like a cross between Chewbacca and those sand guys with the penlight eyes. Couldn’t a little money be spent on special effects since it’s arguably the only new thing our generation has to offer this story? I mean, you know the script is good - just get some decent actors and go nuts on the effects. For heaven’s sake, if they can send a man to an asteroid, how come they can’t make a scary ghost?!

The ‘giddiness” criteria all rests on Stewart. Now, if you want to see perfect watch the Alastair Sim, black and white version. Sim personifies boyish giddiness. He is mirth. He is overwhelmed by good will. He scares the hell out of his housekeeper because she thinks he's gone mad. Sim dances and kicks up his heels. You cannot help but grin to look at him. He swells your heart and makes you remember giggling hysterically, that breathless exercise that leaves you drained and refreshed at the same time. He is medicine.

Stewart tries. He laughs maniacally when he first wakes up, but soon after the movie degenerates into a series of wrapping-it-up scenes. When the credits roll, I feel like someone has dumped me off mid-voyage and I never get to see the ticker-tape ending.

So, I’m still searching for a modern day Christmas Carol with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, may we all laugh like Scrooge does on that morning when he realizes that all mankind is his business, and may your laugh be the “father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs”.

All Bean Scoop content © 2006 DecentCoffee.com