If you haven't figured it out by now, I should probably tell you that I'm rather easily entertained. I've always had a wide childlike streak that seems to be widening as I grow older. I'd love to blame it on working with kids and having so many of my own, but I suspect it would be a weak excuse. This would be me under any circumstances; the kids are just a handy excuse to keep the sort of thing that entertains me around. I'm almost as happy with Muppet movies as I am Shakespeare or opera or Indie films.
This afternoon we watched the Christmas Carol (1982) with George C Scott with our kids. The older two have seen it, but I don't think we've slowed down and watched all together before (always too busy--more on this change another time). For me it's a lot of fun to see this kind of thing through my youngest son's eyes. Helping him understand the nuances of the story (as related to the period in history it took place in and throwing a bit of history about Dickens in along the way) was fulfilling. And hearing hims say, "I have got to read this sometime" was a better than hoped for result. Maybe a Tale of Two Cities will be next.
This evening, for less deep reasons, we followed it up with the Muppet Christmas Carol (1992). This was something of an accident, but the timing couldn't have been better. If you haven't bothered with this little gem, you really should. You're not too much of a grown up to appreciate it, trust me. Brian Henson did a masterful job of weaving Dickens and muppet silliness. His father would have been proud. As with the other, I've watched it before, but it's been a few years and I was a less sensitive (childlike?) viewer and listener in those days. Some of the better aspects of it slipped past me--like the sparkling humor and the well-constructed lyrics. Especially the well constructed lyrics.
I made it all the way through the first version of the movie without doing much more than thrilling at the sight of Christmas future and my throat tightened a little at the scene of young Ebenezer looking into his cold father's eyes as the old man made it clear there would be no loving reunion.
But during the Muppet Christmas Carol, while watching the Bob Cratchett family scene, where Tiny Tim (played by Robin the frog) sang "Bless us All" I teared up. That's okay, so did Gary, but he blamed it on the pepper in the chicken he was eating. In and of themselves, the lyrics are simple enough and certainly don't have much going for them, but I think the prayerfulness of them caught me off guard. One doesn't generally expect to find a moment of worship like that in the middle of a Muppet movie. I hunted up the scene for your viewing pleasure and included the words below so that you too can sniffle or be affected by the pepper in the chicken. Don't worry, I won't ask which one.
Life is full of sweet surpises
Everyday's a gift
The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my spirit
Fills me up with laughter, fills me up with song
I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong
Bless us all, who gather here
The loving family i hold dear
No place on earth, compares with home
And every path will bring me back from where I roam
Bless us all, that as we live
We always comfort and forgive
We have so much, that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere
Let us always love each other
Lead us to the light
Let us hear the voice of reason, singing in the night
Let us run from anger and catch us when we fall
Teach us in our dreams and please, yes please
Bless us one and all
Bless us all with playful years
With noisy games and joyful tears
We reach for you and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams
We ask you bless us all
We reach for you and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams we ask you
Bless us all