And, while you're at it, could you do us all a favor and spare us from yet another onslaught of bad adaptations of A Christmas Carol?
Yes, yes, I know: clearly, I'm Scrooge. Bah humbug, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (Wrong musical.--Ed.) Dickens has often been credited with inventing Christmas as we know it, and so I suppose that, at this time of year, there's no escaping the Ghost of Novelists Past. Still, I do wish people would at least go back and read the original, which, while often sentimental as charged, is also genuinely bleak. The terrifyingly wizened children hidden under the Ghost of Christmas Present's cloak; Jacob Marley's falling jaw; Scrooge's death--these things are all truly spooky. It's a ghost story, after all; it's OK to be scared. (We tend to forget that the Victorians associated ghost stories with Christmas instead of Halloween.)
As I'm sure my gentle readers have gathered by now, I spent part of the evening avoiding rough drafts by watching the most recent A Christmas Carol (adapted from the annual Madison Square Garden production). On the bright side, most of the adult performers had musical theatre backgrounds, which meant that viewers didn't have to cover their ears--or, at least, not very often. "Want" and "Ignorance" were actually pretty unnerving to look at. (That's a "bright side"?--Ed.) Everybody projected Christmas cheer. And...and...and that about exhausts the bright side. On the dark side, those were truly uninteresting musical comedy numbers, in every respect. The poor Ghost of Christmas Present (Jesse Martin) was especially ill-served by both his awkwardly-staged number and his costume, although Marley (Jason Alexander) wasn't much better off. Besides being too clean (literally), the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come sequence packed no punch at all; unless you're Sondheim, perhaps it would be a good idea to refrain from doing song-and-dance numbers about graveyards. And the Cratchits made little impression. I somehow don't think this film will replace either the Alastair Sim or Albert Finney versions.