In the long string of adaptations of Charles Dickens' 1843 classic, possibly the greatest contribution of Disney's A Christmas Carol is that it reminds us that this is a dark and scary ghost story. Screenwriter and director Robert Zemeckis focuses on the personal horror of a miserable man, literally haunted by the prospect of living eternally in despair for his selfish choices.
That Zemeckis would focus on this should come as no surprise, given his history as a director and producer—What Lies Beneath, Death Becomes Her, The Frighteners, Th13teen Ghosts, Gothika, Ghost Ship, and The House on Haunted Hill. Now, his version of A Christmas Carol is easily the most unnerving of all the film adaptations of the story. Some of the movie's best moments involved the haunting of Scrooge—especially an early scene where Scrooge can only sit and wait as he hears the terrifying THUD-drag-THUD of something approaching in the dark.
Wait. Terror? Darkness? Isn't this a Disney film, starring a mugging Jim Carrey and directed by the guy behind the bright and fanciful ThePolar Express? Yes, but families should know this is a far cry from The Muppet Christmas Carol. It will scare the stockings off of little kids. Which is strange, because at times, it seems to be aimed at kids with gags and Polar Express-like action sequences (Scrooge shooting like a rocket into the starry sky, shrinking to the size of a rat, sliding down London's drain pipes, running from giant horses, etc). Families with young children will be better off renting the Muppet version.
OK, so it's not a kid flick. But how does it fare in adapting Dickens for other audiences? It's a mixed bag.
The good: Zemeckis nails the terror of revisiting one's painful and regrettable ...1