Starring Simon Callow, Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage, Jane Horrocks, Michael Gambon, Rhys Ifans and Juliet Stephenson.
The Christmas film market is usually awash with children's films, and more often than not a sizeable portion of these offerings are animated. Add to this formula a famous Christmas story specifically adapted to capture the imagination of children and surely you're on to winner? Not in the case of Jimmy T Murakami's 'Christmas Carol: The Movie'.
This version of the celebrated tale begins in real-time with Callow (who also provides the voice for Scrooge) in fine authorial form as Dickens. Fairly swiftly, we are in animated territory accompanied by two superfluous mute mouse characters who seem to function only as a distraction for small children during the scary parts.
The film disappoints on many levels not least because of the animation. Combining live action, digital paint and hand-painted stills, the look and feel, on the whole, is shakily amateurish – despite proclamations of a two-year animation stint in the press release. The style looks dated and clichéd with Scrooge himself resembling the typical unmasked baddie from an episode of Scooby Doo.
Dickens' heart-warming tale contains the catch-alls of a great story. Love and loss do battle with poverty and loneliness against the backdrop of Christmas. Such a cheery humanitarian story is not difficult to interpret but its impact is hugely diluted here. Many of Dickens' fine characters are under-developed and weak, with Nicolas Cage atrocious as an unconvincing Marley. This dumbing-down of the story detracts hugely from the film and only patronises children who may have already read the book. If that's not enough to put you off, Kate Winslett (who plays Belle) sings the theme tune, which is a mere microcosm of a truly twee, dispirited score.
If you'd like your children to experience this Dickensian classic, avoid this and take them to the stage version currently running at the Gate Tehatre in Dublin. While comparisons of such diverse media are normally unfair, the screen version is so abysmal your kids will thank you for it.