It doesn’t stray from the source material much, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t add anything to what we’ve seen before countless times either.
We review the Netflix film Scrooge: A Christmas Carol, which does not contain spoilers.
A Christmas Carol, the classic 19th-century novella by Charles Dickens, has seen more on-screen adaptations than we can count over the past century years. This year, Netflix added its own to the mix, this time an animated remake of the 1970 musical Scrooge. The film Scrooge: A Christmas Carol was directed by Stephen Donnelly and features all the musical numbers composed for the original by the late Leslie Bricusse. Voicing the well-known and beloved characters are an ensemble of stars, including Luke Evans (from Nine Perfect Strangers), Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), and Olivia Colman (The Crown).
We all know the story here. Ebenezer Scrooge (Evans) is an old miser who hates Christmas and anything that could possibly bring any joy to anyone’s life. He’s in the business of lending money and taking away everything from poor debtors unable to pay him back. Even those working for him, particularly Bob Cratchit (Johnny Flynn), find themselves at the mercy of the old’s miser’s lack of generosity. Ebenezer’s nephew and huge Christmas lover, Harry (Fra Fee), keeps reaching out, but the old man makes a point to keep him at arm’s length. Of course, on Christmas eve, he gets a visit from the ghost of his former business partner, Marley (Jonathan Pryce), who warns him about the three ghosts that will visit in an attempt to make him change his wicked ways.
With so much star-power behind it, I can see why Netflix believed it’s onto a winner with this newest Christmas animation. And in some ways, it is. The trippy animation is fun to watch, the characters are exactly what you’d expect them to be, and the musical numbers are dazzling. Scrooge: A Christmas Carol doesn’t stray from the source material much, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t add anything to what we’ve seen before countless times either. Everything happens exactly how we expect it to happen and in the correct order, meaning there’s not much setting this film apart from any of the other Christmas Carol adaptations out there.
Unlike in the 1970 musical Scrooge, in this version, our main character has a dog named Prudence that’s way too friendly. While the pup makes for a nice addition and provides some genuinely comedic moments, she also humanizes and shows viewers a softer side of the old miser before the ghosts even get a chance to visit. Probably one of the main criticisms I have of this film is that the Scrooge in this animation is, well, much less easy to hate than in other adaptations. For example, in one scene at the beginning, he threatens to call the police on a group of buskers who were fundraising for the poor, yet ultimately chooses to leave them be. There are too many glimpses into his softer side before we even get a chance to see him tortured by the Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol is a harmless and fun-to-watch adaptation of a tale old as time. While quite enjoyable to stream once, it probably won’t make it on many people’s Christmas rewatch list.
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