Disney’s A Christmas Carol Parent Guide
Dickens' own indictment of the upper class's treatment of the poorer members of society is evident as well. Still, this story gives teens a chance to reflect on their own seasonal inclinations.
Parent Movie Review
One year when our children were young, we decided to watch as many adaptations as we could find of the classic Dickens’ tale, A Christmas Carol. Not surprisingly, there were more than a few options. It seems that everyone from Alastair Sim to Bill Murray and Mickey Mouse to Miss Piggy wanted in on the action. Even the 2009 movie Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is based on three female apparitions who help straighten out the life of a wayward lover.
It shouldn’t be unexpected then to have yet another version of the story appearing on the big screen—this time in 3D. The technologically updated Disney’s A Christmas Carol combines the vocal talents of Jim Carrey with the motion capture capabilities of Producer Robert Zemeckis (who was also behind The Polar Express.)
Carrey voices several characters in the film including the miserly Scrooge and the three ghostly visitors that take him on a tour of his life. The rendezvous is initiated by Scrooge’s dead business partner Jacob Marley (voice by Gary Oldman) who is weighted down in the afterlife by the chains of greed he forged while on earth. Hoping to save Scrooge from the same horrible fate, he arranges for the spirits to call on his old friend.
Following Dickens’ novella fairly closely, the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future all make their way into Scrooge’s house and unveil to him things as they were, as they are and as they will be, unless he makes some drastic changes. During their journey, he and the Ghost of Christmas Present stop at the humble home of his employee Bob Cratchit (voice by Gary Oldman) and he gets a glimpse of real happiness. However his heart is broken by the memories of an affection he discarded when he is given a reunion with his youthful love Belle (voice by Robin Wright Penn).
Before the experience is over, the mingy penny-pincher also gets a grim peek into his impending end. It is a startling and bleak wake up call. The intense depictions of red-eyed horses chasing a man through the narrow streets of London and an ominous stopover at a desolate graveyard (where Scrooge falls into an open grave) are also startling for viewers, especially for young audience members more familiar with the cartoonish, watered down versions of this weighty tale. Other scenes of ghoulish characters that decay and disintegrate on screen and a macabre doorknocker up the scare factor of this film too, likely making it inappropriate for many children.
While this production offers some stunning visual animation and the usual lighthearted, happy ending, the overall tone of the film more accurately reflects the dire times in which the original story was written. Dickens’ own indictment of the upper class’s treatment of the poorer members of society is evident as well. Still, this story gives teens and adults a chance to reflect on their own seasonal inclinations—be they generous ones or more tightfisted.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Cary Elwes, Fionnula Flanagan.
Director: Robert ZemeckisStarring Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Cary Elwes, Fionnula Flanagan, Robert Zemeckis.. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release November 6, 2009. Updated October 31, 2020
Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Rating & Content Info
Why is Disney’s A Christmas Carol rated PG? Disney’s A Christmas Carol is rated PG by the MPAA for scary sequences and images.
This script is decidedly more intense than many of the other animated versions. The opening scenes depict a dead body in a casket. A ghostly doorknocker comes to life, spitting out decaying teeth and scaring a man. Bells unexplainably begin ringing and ominous sounds are heard in the other room. While howling and shrieking, an apparition experiences physical convulsions that cause the lower part of his jaw begins to flag uncontrollably. Numerous ghostly characters are seen floating in the air. A man is taken on several wild flights through the night air. A character is shot up into the sky and then falls to earth. A man is hit on the head with a torch. A character thrusts a knife at another man. Moments of peril and intense action are portrayed. After death, a character’s body decays leaving only a skeletal figure which also disintegrates and blows away in a wind. A man is chased through the streets by a team of ghostly horses and a silent, threatening driver. A character is nearly hit by a man who is chasing a rat with a fire poker. A man falls into an open grave. Some characters are shown smoking or drinking alcohol. One character uses snuff. Women wear low-cut dresses. The script contains infrequent mild profanities. Several references to death (including the passing of children) are made.
Page last updated October 31, 2020
Disney’s A Christmas Carol Parents' Guide
Published in Reader’s Digest in December 1989, The Second Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told recounts the dismal and dark circumstances that led to the penning of Charles Dickens’s well-known Christmas tale.
How does Scrooge’s experience open his eyes to the suffering around him? What actions does he take? How can knowledge change a person’s perspective?
What is your favorite character in this story? Why do you relate to this person?
The most recent home video release of Disney’s A Christmas Carol movie is November 16, 2010. Here are some details…
Disney’s A Christmas Carol releases to home video on November 16, 2010, on DVD and as a Blu-ray Combo Pack.
Special features included with Disney’s A Christmas Carol on DVD:
-Capturing A Christmas Carol
-On Set With Sammi
- Deleted Scenes
Special features included with Disney’s A Christmas Carol 4-DISC Blu-ray Combo Pack:
- Mr. Scrooge’s Wild Ride (In 3D)
- Behind The Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience
- Digital Advent Calendar
- Capturing A Christmas Carol
- On Set With Sammi
- Deleted Scenes
Related home video titles:
In another pair of films set in the Christmas season, The Family Man and It’s a Wonderful Life, two characters get a chance to see how different their lives would have been had they chosen a another path.
You can find Charles Dickens story (first published on December 19, 1843) at your local library.