John Bramley
Jeff Labrecque
November 04, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

A Christmas Carol

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
86 minutes
performer
Mervyn Johns, Alastair Sim, Hermione Baddeley, Francis De Wolff, Michael Hordern
director
Brian Desmond Hurst
distributor
United Artists (MGM)
author
Noel Langley
genre
Holiday, Drama

We gave it an A

STARRING Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright Penn
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Robert Zemeckis

If you really want to irritate director Robert Zemeckis, mention ”dead eyes.” Ever since 2004’s The Polar Express, critics have sniped that his performance-capture characters have lacked a human-seeming ocular spark. ”We have technology now to actually read the movement of the retina,” Zemeckis assured fans at Comic-Con in July. ”We’ve gotten very close to perfecting this.” With A Christmas Carol, he uses the next generation of 3-D performance-capture tools — and a large dose of Jim Carrey — to resurrect Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Carrey, who plays grinchy Ebenezer Scrooge at four stages of his life, plus all three Christmas ghosts, might be the ideal performer for Zemeckis’ magic. ”He’s such a physical animal,” says Robin Wright Penn, who also plays multiple characters. ”It’s so exciting to be with him, because you never know what you’re going to get.” Producer Steve Starkey believes the latest technology will allow audiences to truly appreciate Carrey’s work: ”I think the time is over that a full performance like Jim’s is dismissed as simply an actor lending a voice to a film. It’s quite a workout.” God bless them all — every one of the seven characters he plays.

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