A CAROL CHRISTMAS (2003) – Here’s another entry in Balladeer’s Blog’s Ninth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon. This version is one of the many that tries mining laughs out of setting the Dickens classic in the modern age. These adaptations have varying degrees of success and on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this effort a 6.5.
A Carol Christmas isn’t trying to be the most touching or the funniest rendition of A Christmas Carol, it’s just a pleasant, fluffy diversion for the Christmas season. Tori Spelling stars as Carol Cartman, a daytime hostess like Jenny Jones, Oprah and so many others. As the Scrooge figure Spelling is selfish, mean-spirited and abuses her staff, especially her assistant Roberta, the Bob Cratchit role.
Roberta (Nina Siemaszko) is a struggling single mother caught up in a custody battle for her version of Tiny Tim in a novel departure from the usual Cratchit family pathos.
Dinah Manoff portrays the ghost of Carol’s late aunt and manager Marla. Aunt Marla was a driven “show-biz mom” type whose monomaniacal, cold-hearted drive was passed on to Carol as she forced the girl into a show business career she never really wanted. Because of this Marla is cursed in a Jacob Marley manner and has come to warn her niece that she faces the same fate unless she changes her ways.
Gary Coleman plays the Ghost of Christmas Past and is okay. To me he has a sad kind of Rondo Hatton self-exploitation air as he whines about the scarcity of roles for people of his size. It’s a bit pathetic and distracts from the overall theme.
William Shatner shows up as “Dr Bob” a Dr Phil type who serves as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Everything’s better with Shatner in it and A Carol Christmas is no exception. I have long felt that if Shatner had been rejected for the role of Captain Kirk way back when he might have wound up as a comedy giant on sitcoms.
His satirically unctuous Dr Bob Ghost nicely combats the usual saccharine feel of the Christmas Present portion. If you’re not going for the deep emotion of the original Christmas Carol it’s nice to go for laughs instead and Shatner always brings a smile.
James Cromwell is always horrendous no matter what role he plays and as a creepy chauffeur version of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come he single-handedly sabotages the entire Christmas Yet to Come segment. Tori Spelling does a good job conveying the shock her character feels over her downbeat future and that helps salvage what can be salvaged here.
Spelling’s conversion scenes are nice but not outstanding. Part of her character’s New Beginning is conveyed via Carol finally dabbing off much of the caked-on makeup she’d been wearing to reveal a much softer, more human look. It’s sort of like Scrooge shaving off his beard in that other Christmas Carol version.
Some critics miss the significance of how Carol was figuratively hiding behind her cold makeup mask like she was sealing herself away from her emotions, or using the excessive makeup like a shield against the world. Those critics act like it’s an error, missing the point entirely. Either that or they let their apparent pathological hatred of the harmless Tori Spelling get in the way.
A Carol Christmas is like a pizza that may not be the best you’ve ever tasted but is still pretty damn good, as pizza and Christmas Carol adaptations tend to be. +++
FOR DOZENS MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/
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