Yes, it’s that time of year where we all get reminded not to be such soulless bastards and open up our hearts to love all of humanity. Dickens’ classic novel expressing this universal view has been adapted/remade over 60 times with the Jim Carrey vehicle being the latest example.
The originality-free formula of having a ghost appear to tell the heartless miser three more are coming to haunt the shit out of him has been a staple of many TV series looking for an easy-to-produce Xmas episode and of production companies eager to find a ready-made audience during the holidays.
Adapting the Dickens novel, however, doesn’t mean you’ll have a classic. Far from it. Here are 5 examples of terrible adaptations that have taken on the ponderous chains of Jacob Marley for their very existence:
5. Barbie in “A Christmas Carol”
Everyone’s favorite materialistic anorexic wants to head out on Christmas Eve to a hospital charity ball, but her little sister prefers spending it at home with her family, decorating the tree and making cookies, the selfish little brat. This gives the glamor gal an opportunity to spew out the tale of a Victorian-era operatic diva who demands her entire staff work on the holiday or get booted. The computer animation in this feature is lousy, the gaudiness hurts my eyes and the story has the added distraction of an obnoxious obese cat. The one positive thing is that this was not titled “Barbie’s Christmas Carol,” which would have fooled future blonds into believing the Mattel doll came up with the original tale.
4. “Another Song for Christmas” Episode from Highway to Heaven
Michael Landon plays an angel sent back to earth teamed up with former cop Victor French to help lost souls get back on track, so naturally they had to have a “Christmas Carol” adaptation for one of the episodes of this popular TV series. The problem is that this Scrooge, a used car salesman named Honest Eddy, is an unintentional laugh riot. On Christmas Eve, the slimy snake knowingly sells a lemon to an elderly couple who practically kiss his ass. He knows they can’t afford it and eagerly anticipates a repo so he can resell the shitcan. He fires an honest but poor mechanic for refusing to stay on that night to roll back the odometers on several cars. Then, when the director of an orphanage approaches him for financial help, Eddy lets him know that the sight of the poor boys and girls would make him “probably puke,” so he proceeds with plans to have the kids booted out on Christmas Day and the building razed for a new car lot. Finally, when he gets home, he instructs his ancient butler to get his ass back to the mansion the next morning, even though the old man made plans to be with his grandchildren. Whew! That’s a full day’s evil, right there. The Landon/French double whammy of cloying sentimentality, of course, shames the guy into good, but having Eddy change his ways is a letdown. I really wanted another Bad Santa.
3. VeggieTales: An Easter Carol
It’s one thing to mess up the Scrooge story during a Christmas setting, but something else altogether when you try yanking it out of December and bastardizing it for your own propaganda purposes. Case in point: An Easter Carol, an almost-feature length animated VeggieTales DVD, tells the story of how Ebenezer Nezzer, a plastic Easter egg tycoon, plans to demolish a church in order to create an Easterland amusement park. The not-so-subtle suggestion to the kiddies, of course, is that Christianity is under attack by capitalism (a rather odd notion given that the overtly Christian VeggieTales DVDs have sold tens of millions of copies). After a vision of his grandmother appears to Nezzer, an angel named Hope arrives to show the heartless scum his Easters of past, present and future. Very tellingly, the future includes policemen too timid to stop robbers, thus implying to the impressionable young ‘uns that without Christianity, society would crumble into criminal anarchy. And if you think that’s playing the drama queen, you’re ready to up the ante by trying out the next feature:
2. An American Carol
Along the same lines of An Easter Carol, this film takes another holiday, Independence Day, and attempts to preach its comic way into your hearts. Michael Malone (a Michael Moore parody) wants to make the Fourth of July a thing of the past because of America’s spotted history. On July 3rd, John F. Kennedy steps out of a TV and warns him of the visit by three spirits: General Patton, George Washington and the Angel of Death. Somehow the idea of joy and good cheer gets lost with a lot of punching, slapping, shotgun blasting and terrorist explosions–the kind of comedy that went way out of style for director David Zucker about 20 years ago. And, anyway, what would Dickens have to do with whether or not you like Michael Moore, the ACLU, gays or liberals?
1. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Of all the adaptations I’ve ever seen on the large or small screen, this 2009 alleged comedy is quite simply the most pointless use of “A Christmas Carol” ever. Matthew McConaughey stars as Connor, an arrogant, womanizing asshole photographer who doesn’t think twice about getting a woman in bed for a quick pork and an even quicker adios. Marriage for him is a waste of time and he has no qualms about letting others know during his engaged younger brother’s pre-wedding dinner. There are many ways of approaching this tale, but the incredibly lazy writers went the Dickensian route, dredging up a dead bachelor uncle (Oscar-winner Michael Douglas) to warn this douchebag of the three girlfriend ghosts that will eventually force him to become a sweetheart. The movie is so soulless and sexist, Connor’s daily life and routine don’t seem all that bad, since the women he beds have to be dumb enough to be fooled by him in the first place. Hell, this movie would have been better if Scrooge himself appeared to tell Connor how much he sucks.