by David McMichael
Robert Zemeckis’ $165 million venture is an interesting creature. As far as I can tell, there was no need for this movie to exist. If Zemeckis’ goal was to spread Christmas cheer, the $165 million could probably have been better used buying everyone in the country a pudding cup with a snowman on it. And I don’t even like pudding cups.
Zemeckis’ last three directorial efforts – A Christmas Carol, Beowulf and The Polar Express – have each employed the technique of motion-capture, which Zemeckis pioneered and used in Express. This process consists of marking a real actor with dozens of tracking points, filming him or her, and then using those tracking points to create a digital version of the actor. What you’re left with is a restricted creation that captures neither the slight nuances in a human actor’s face, nor the more cartoon-y emotion present in Pixar’s creations. And therein lies Carol’s biggest problem.
You don’t feel anythingÂ during the movie, and to sit through it becomes more of an exercise inpatience than anything else.
Another of the movie’s shortcomings was the poor use of Jim Carrey’sÂ (as Scrooge) shenanigan-inclined nature. He rarely had a funny line: even lines that were funny in other retellings of the story fell flat in this one. Give Jim Carrey room to be the Grinch and Ace Ventura and Lloyd. Let him entertain us. That’s what he’s there for, right? But, alas, he has a funny chin, and that’s about it.
The overall tone of the movie was heavy. Light, happy moments were scarce, and when they popped up, they lacked emotional punch because of our lack of investment in the wooden characters.
If you’re looking for something to help get you in a festive mood, leave Jim Digital Carrey and Robert Zemeckis in the theater, and pick up the Muppets. And maybe a pudding cup.