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Modern Turn On The Classic Charles Dickens Christmas Story
I admit to being a glutton for the story of "A Christmas Carol", by Charles Dickens and both Hollywood and England have used this wonderful story in countless film realizations. While 2003's "A Carol Christmas", would never be up on the pedestal with the likes of the versions starring Alistair Sim and Geoerge C. Scott I found it a delightful modern turn on the story with some surprisingly effective performances and moments. Tori Spelling may at first glance seem an unlikely choice for the scrooge like lead character who thanks to visits by three spirits on Christmas Eve learns the error of her ways, however she did a good job in the role. Her change of heart towards her fellow man at the conclusion which always seems to be the hardest part of the Scrooge character for actors to make believable was also handled properly by Ms. Spelling. The real joy of this movie for me however was the welcome return of Gary Coleman as the Ghost of Christmas Past in a rather wistful performance that was in many ways quite autobiographical. He brings some much valued humour and indeed a little sadness into the story making his part of the story the most interesting.
Almost everyone is familiar with the age old story of "A Christmas Carol", and how the old miser Scrooge is visited by three spirits over the course of one Christmas Eve who proceed to teach him the error of his ways. In this modern version Tori Spelling plays meaner than mean Carol Cartman the host of a talk show that is mainly geared towards exploiting its guests in th ename of higher ratings than it is in trying to make the world a better place. Carol is tight fisted and domineering and strikes terror into the hearts of all her production crew, in particular her much put upon personal assistant Roberta (Nina Siemaszko) and her production manager Jimmy (Michael Landes). Carol has so little regard for her production team that she begrudges even buying them Christmas gifts, a job she delegates to Roberta to do in her own time even though she herself is busy with her young child. Taking a nap just prior to the start of her Christmas Eve telecast Carol is visited by the disturbing spirit of her aunt Marla (Dinah Manoff), who in life was the mean and hard as nails main driving influence in Carol's life and made her sacrifice much in her climb to the top as a talk show host. Marla warns Carol that she will end up like she has become if she does not reform her ways and informs Carol that she will be visited by three spirits who will take her on a journey that she will never forget. The visits of the three spirits take Carol back over her life as she sees her literal adaption by Aunt Marla who takes over her life and drives her reluctantly on to success hardening the young girl along the way. Carol gets to see how Marla destroyed her chance at happiness with good spirited boyfriend John (Jason Brooks), and how she has got to where she now is treating her staff not as responsible human beings but as her slaves. The visit of the Ghost of Christmas future in particular brings Carol into reality when it is revealed just what everyone actually thinks of her after her death and how few people really care what happens to her. Awakened from her sleep Carol is jolted into action to avoid this terrible fate that could be hers if she doesn't change her ways and during her Christmas Eve telecast she turns over a new leaf in her relations with her co workers,her viewing audience, former boyfriend John, and her long estranged family who she then spends Christmas Eve with at a happy conclusion.
"A Carol Christmas", benefits most from both a beautiful look and the featured veteran television stars who appear as the spirits. William Shatner in the dual roles of television personality Dr. Bob, and the Ghost of Christmas has alot of fun with his role in a comic performance and he teams especially well with Tori Spelling however I enjoyed the rare reappearance by Gary Coleman the most. His character while also driven with comic lines has serious undertones and an often sad demeanour to him playing a "washed up child performer from television", who is now the Ghost of Christmas Past. Long after his great stardom on the television series "Different Strokes", Gary Coleman laces his dialogue with many wry comments about the effects of stardom and what to do when the limelight has gone which made me hope that this talented performer is given more to do in the future as an adult. Dinah Manoff in the old Jacob Marley role redone here as carol's aunt is also effective as the real villian of the piece and she is positively hateful in the flash back sequences where she is depicted manipulating the young Carol into becoming what she was not capable of achieving herself. I really enjoyed the romantic element between Nina Siemaszko as Carol's harrassed assistant Roberta in the revamped Bob Crachit role, and handsome Michael Landes as the producer of Carol's chat show. Their scenes together really had a warm feeling about them in particular with Roberta's daughter in the Christmas decorating scene. Overall the look of "A Carol Christmas", had the trademark glossy appearance associated with Hallmark productions and that fine Christmasy look and feel makes it a worthy although not classic addition to any Christmas movie collection.
Many would say "why yet another version of "A Christmas Carol"?", and certainly I asked it myself just that before viewing this DVD however I feel there is room for one more modern variation on this immortal story. The colourful visiting ghosts and Gary Coleman in particular give "A Carol Christmas", its own distinct look and feel and the timeless message of the Charles Dickens story is still as relevant and worthy of thought no matter what form the story assumes. Hallmark have a unique way of creating pleasing Christmas movies and this well produced and glossy looking Christmas story is well worth revisiting each Christmas. Enjoy!
First of all, the star does not look as bad in the movie as she does in the photo that is on the cover.
This is an effective rendering of the story. Much better than "An American Christmas Carol." The leading role could have been better cast but she did not harm the movie, and some of the other cast were actually appealing (such as the woman who played her assistant and the child who played her sister's niece). The only drawbacks were the heavy-duty rock music during the opening credits and during the falling-in-love sequence. It jars with the spirit of the rest of the movie. Fortunately, you can fast-forward over both without missing any of the story.
(Another annoyance unrelated to the movie is the commercial promo for another movie at the beginning of the DVD. You can't skip to the menu, you can only fast-forward over it. To make matters worse, the promo is for a horrible Christmas movie called A Christmas Child.)
Still, this movie is worth seeing more than once. The fact that her life is contemporary makes it closer to our own than the original Scrooge story, and this makes the movie hit harder.
Smart Funny & Good
I Liked This Movie When I Saw It Last Year On Hallmark, The Cast Is Wonderful...Everyone!! It Will Become Regular Viewing Each Holiday Season. A Smart, Funny & Good Retelling Of The Classic!!