Disney's A Christmas Carol
Richard Donner's enjoyable "Christmas Carol"-update "Scrooged" (1988) popped with endearing comic pizzazz by way of Bill Murray's adorably cruel television network biggie who gets rehabilitated by ghosts. There's so much magic between the likes of Carol Kane, Karen Allen, and David Johansen that it's easy to fall in love with the movie. Sadly, there isn't much to fall in love with in Robert Zemeckis's visually overpowering motion-capture-animation fiesta with its trademark cardboard-looking "human" appearance to the animated characters. Jim Carrey inhabits a Dickens-era version of Ebenezer Scrooge, the wicked banker that gets spirited away by the ghosts of Christmases "Past," "Present" and "Future." The same animation techniques that made Zameckis's 2004 movie "Polar Express" a disaster, shrouds the actors here in a similarly thick sheen of immutable alien cardboard. Gary Oldman is spry as Scrooge's assistant Bob Cratchit, while Colin Firth's performance as Scrooge's nephew is muffled beneath the animation. The film stays reasonably true to Dickens's book but clashes with itself in outrageous chase sequences that overwhelm Dickens's much more human-scaled thematic message. The 3-D aspect of the animation goes largely unnoticed amid all of the graphic bombast on screen. There's just something about this particular style of animation that, while impressive at first glance, acts as an impenetrable wall between the audience and the story. It's a bubble where empathy and emotion don't register. Go watch "Scrooged" instead.
Rated PG. 95 mins. (C) (Two Stars)