Who's In It: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins, Cary Elwes
The Basics: You'd hate Christmas too if you had the nagging presence of a motion-captured, freakishly animated, seemingly cross-eyed cartoon Colin Firth demanding you eat dinner at his house on December 25th. Or worse, a creepy-crawly urchin with the progeria-face of Gary Oldman shrieking, "GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE!" When do they make the version where Scrooge wins, keeps his money, goes on a nice vacation somwhere and the rest of these chowderheads get eaten by wolves?
What's The Deal: None of what I just wrote should make you think that I hate A Christmas Carol. I like it a lot. I even like that kind of bad one where Albert Finney and people who couldn't get cast in Oliver! all sing and dance around the streets of fake London. And since we're talking about animation, I like that one with Mr. Magoo, as well. But this is the coldest, harshest, loudest, least joyful and most headache-inducing incarnation I've watched since that TV movie version with Tori Spelling. Animatronic robots would feel more human than this.
Who Is Not To Blame: Jim Carrey. Surprisingly, he doesn't mug all over the place. It seems like he learned his lesson when someone finally forced him to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas. In fact, if you can fault him for anything here it would be for being almost too frightening and cruel as Ebenezer Scrooge, snarling lines like, "I'll see you in Hell first!" to Colin Firth where even the original story only suggested that the character ever said such a thing.
The One Thing Other Critics Will Harsh On That I Won't: All the unnecessary chases and flying around stuff. It's 3-D. Of course you want that stuff zooming right at your face. You want that as often as possible or else the misery of those tight plastic glasses on your head has no payoff. And when Scrooge gets chased by giant black devil-horses, it's pretty cool (and totally terrifying for the little ones, by the way).
Unforgivable Detail: The motion-capture character design. It's not as horribly freakish as The Polar Express, but it's still pretty rotten. It's seemingly tiered into Jim Carrey A-lister-level detail; B-lister Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins-level disturbing, nearly-real-but-not-quite faces; and then finally Z-list everybody else who all look like waxy aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind in jolly olde England clothes