Does anyone remember when I did a countdown of the dumbest moments in Christmas Carol adaptations? Well, there’s one version I sadly overlooked, one that was packed with ridiculous and asinine moments. The 2006 animated version by BKN Entertainment was one that I forgot to put on the list, and I’m going to remedy that right now.
Now, considering that A Christmas Carol is so well-known, it can be adapted for kids mostly unchanged. The Muppets and Mr. Magoo versions were entertaining for both children and adults, were faithful to the source material and even included some of the book’s darker moments. Not so with the BKN version, one so sanitised that Tiny Tim doesn’t even die in the Christmas Yet to Come segment.
This version casts anthropomorphic animals in the roles of Dickens’ famous characters, so we have Scrooge and his nephew as skunks, the Cratchits as rabbits, Jacob Marley as a giant mutated Jiminy Cricket, Christmas Past as a stork, Christmas Present as a kangaroo and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as a freaking walrus. Well, goo goo goo joob. Still, you want to make the characters furries, be my guest, just don’t make them disturbing-looking furries. I’m not expecting Pixar-level animation from a small-scale release like this and it’s not as bad as Foodfight, but the characters’ plastic-looking bodies and blank expressions mean that even the most perverted of furries wouldn’t jack off to this.
So how does it adapt the novel? Well, remember how in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Gonzo played Charles Dickens and quoted lines from the book almost word-for-word? Fuck that, the only quote from the book you’ll find here is “Bah, humbug!” I wouldn’t have minded new dialogue if the new dialogue was any good. For example, during the Jacob Marley scene, Marley says he is a ‘ghost of [his] former self’ and ‘It is not your soup that has soured, Ebenezer, it is your soul!’ He sounds like some sort of hellfire preacher crossed with a five year old dressed up as a ghost for Halloween.
The basic plot of A Christmas Carol is still followed, I guess. Scrooge is mean to Bob, his nephew and the charity workers, gets haunted by ghosts who show him his past, present and possible future, and Scrooge becomes all nicey-nice. I mean, hell, they actually have Scrooge give Cratchit his raise on Boxing Day like in the book, as opposed to most other kiddie versions that have Scrooge visit Cratchit’s house on Christmas Day. There are some additions made, however, utterly idiotic additions. Like at the beginning, there’s a scene that revolves around Scrooge losing a farthing and finding it on his head.
And of course, there’s the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come scene. I don’t really mind him being a walrus that talks – in fact, he probably has the best design out of everyone in the entire film, with his broken tusk and electric sparks covering his body. I could totally buy him as a walrus version of Death; if they made a funny animal remake of The Seventh Seal and used his design, I’d be totally down with that. Too bad they had to jettison Tiny Tim’s death, considering this Tiny Tim is one of the most annoying portrayals of the character ever and that’s saying a lot. He looks atrociously adorable and sounds like a Mary Poppins reject, and yet in the Christmas Yet to Come sequence, he just ends up growing up to be as much a dick as Scrooge. So, he lived a long life then? Scrooge’s grave is shown in this sequence as per usual, but, get this, he dies in the possible future because he was crushed by his coins. Maybe he thought he was the other Scrooge or something, I dunno.
Still, there is actually one change to the story I kinda like. During the Christmas Past sequence, this version attempts to do what the 1951 Alistair Sim Christmas Carol did and expand upon the relationship between Scrooge and his sister Fan. In fact, the whole sequence is dedicated to Fan, removing Fezziwig and Belle entirely. A young Ebenezer Scrooge is sent to boarding school on Christmas Day by his asshole father, and years later, Fan promises to take him back to live with her. However, when she gives birth to Fred, there’s no room for Scroogey. So young Ebenezer thinks his sister doesn’t love him and marches out, not hearing Fan say to Fred she does love Scrooge, which sort of mirrors the Sim version where young Scrooge marches out on his dying sister and doesn’t get to hear her ask him to take care of Fred. Then again, comparing the 2006 version to the 1951 version is like comparing Goodfellas to Shark Tale, which is especially apparent when the 2006 version has Christmas Past use the term “diapers”.
The movie on a whole is badly animated and poorly acted. Even when Scrooge changes his ways, it feels less like he wants to make things right and more like he just wants to feel better about himself. It’s supposed to be set in Victorian London (even though the town looks like it’s in the middle of bumfuck nowhere) yet the language used feels really American. It’s not as bad as the company’s later Alice in Wonderland adaptation (which reuses the Bob Cratchit model for the White Rabbit, among others) but still pretty lame. Yeah, it’s for kids, but so’s the Muppet version and that’s much better.