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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Christmas Carol: The Movie (review)

The voice cast of this animated British kid flick is an Anglophile’s dream: Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland), Michael Gambon (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), Juliet Stevenson (Being Julia), Rhys Ifans (Vanity Fair), Jane Horrocks (Chicken Run). Pity that not a one of them distinguishes him- or herself — the voice performances are so peculiarly bland that even the usually distinctive voice of Nicolas Cage (National Treasure), whom we’re told contributed something here, is un-pick-out-able in the mess. Add in the flat, dull animation, and one wonders what the rationale was behind this unnecessary remake. Surely, the addition of a pair of nosy, anthropomorphic mice to Dickens’s classic story isn’t enough to justify it, particularly when one considers that Scrooge (the voice of Simon Callow: No Man’s Land) seems rather betrayed as a character by their inclusion — why would such a miserable man be mean to human beings and kind to vermin, offering them porridge and a warm pocket in which to sleep? One is tempted to wonder, cynically and contrarily to the Christmas spirit, whether the film isn’t merely a giant advertisement for mega-phenomenon Charlotte Church’s song “It’s the Heart that Matters” and for “What If,” the huge holiday hit tune performed by none other than, yes, Kate Winslet. DVD extras include a making-of featurette, the live-action opening and ending that appeared in the theatrical version, which add precisely nothing to the film, and, yes, Kate Winslet’s “What If” music video.

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MPAA: rated PG for momentary language

viewed at home on a small screen

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