Australian Council on Children and the Media

Muppet Christmas Carol, The

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Not suitable under 5; parental guidance for children aged 5 (and sensitive children) (scary themes and characters (haunting, ghosts and spirits; doom of death))

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Muppet Christmas Carol, The
  • a review of Muppet Christmas Carol, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 December 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to scary themes and characters (haunting, ghosts and spirits; doom of death).
Children aged 5 Parental guidance recommended due to scary themes and characters (haunting, ghosts and spirits; doom of death).
Children aged 6 and over Ok for this age group, though parental guidance is recommended for sensitive children in this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Muppet Christmas Carol, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact.
Length 85 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Charles Dickens – the creator of the famous 1843 classic, 'A Christmas Carol' (aka Gonzo from the Muppet family) narrates the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), a cold-hearted and ruthless mortgage broker, who does not care about anything but making profit. Because of his complete lack of empathy, he is feared and hated by everyone. Christmas is his least favourite time of the year, when his subordinates spend money on "humbug" and want to have time off work. One Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghosts of two former business associates Robert and Jacob Marley (Statler and Waldorf) who were just as nasty and greedy. They forewarn him that, unless he changes his ways, his fate is doomed. They also announce that three more ghosts are going to visit him that night: the spirits of Past, Present, and Future Christmases. Will the ghosts be able to open Ebenezer's eyes and heart to prevent disaster and to change for the better?

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family Christmas classic; Muppets; Humour; Kindness and generosity.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is no violence in this movie.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • When the ghosts of Robert and Jacob Marley appear, Scrooge gets very scared. They are restricted in heavy iron chains, and predict a terrible, scary future for Scrooge unless he makes changes.
  • In the Present Christmas sequence, it is indicated that Tiny Tim, the sickness-ridden son of Scrooge’s accountant (Kermit the Frog), is likely going to die.
  • In the Future Christmas sequence, it is indicated that Tiny Tim has died, leaving his parents devastated.
  • The Future Christmas Spirit is very scary looking: a mute, faceless, grim reaper-like creature, with a hood and long, bony fingers.
  • In the Future Christmas sequence, Scrooge is terrified to see his own grave and learn that everyone is happy about his death.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and scary visual images are likely to scare or disturb some children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Muppets.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • "idiot".

In a nutshell

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a sweet, kid-friendly adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, which is full of positive and inspiring messages about kindness and generosity. The sad and heavy themes are buffered well by the presence of well-known, endearing Muppet characters; funny and light-hearted scenes and songs; and helpful commentary by the narrators Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat. Parental guidance is recommended for young and sensitive viewers.

The main messages from this movie are that it is never too late make positive changes, and that being generous and kind does not only affect others, but enriches one's own life and happiness.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Sharing
  • Gratitude
  • Self-reflection
  • Making up for past mistakes.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Greed and lack of empathy: after years of ruthlessly exploiting others, Scrooge is leading is lonely and joyless life and is feared and despised by the people around him.

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