The best version of A Christmas Carol is, of course, A Muppet Christmas Carol, starring Michael Caine as Scrooge and, for some unknown and perfect reason, Gonzo as Charles Dickens. We all know this. There’s no point in arguing the point or even trying to improve on it. We, as a society, will never do better from an adaptation standpoint. That’s fine. It’s okay to admit that.
We can get weirder, though. We can get so much weirder. There’s nothing stopping us from making the wildest and most chaotic version of this thing anyone has ever seen. We should, too. We should litter it with our favorite actors from film and television and let them run wild and maybe swear a little. Or a lot. Let’s make a hard-R version of A Christmas Carol. The people deserve it. For the holidays.
And so… that’s what’s happening here. Yes, it is. I’m going to cast a weird and profane version of A Christmas Carol. Let’s all just go ahead and assume it’s written and directed by Shane Black, too. Let’s have it all. Tis the season, after all.
NARRATOR – Matt Berry
Matt Berry should narrate most things, so this is a solid place to start. And the vast majority of this cast I’ve put together isn’t British at all and I don’t particularly want them to try a British accent, so it’s nice to have at least a little authenticity. But mostly, I just like the idea of Matt Berry doing this because Matt Berry is the best.
It could be fun, too, because it would set a nice tone. Matt Berry is at his best when he’s being a little naughty, working a little blue. That’s the vibe I’m shooting for here. Fade in, quick opening credits over a drone shot of the London streets, then blammo, Matt Berry chatting up a waitress and then turning to the camera to introduce the festivities. He can pop up throughout. As often as he likes. It’s his show, really.
SCROOGE – Brian Cox
This one is a no-brainer: Brian Cox, Logan Roy from Succession, giving it the full stare and growl, with various humbugs and f-words littered about as a series of spirits drag him through various moments in time against his will until he understands and accepts the meaning of Christmas. He’s basically already playing Scrooge now. It wouldn’t even require much character work on his part. We can have his lines knocked out by lunch, I suspect.
It would be wild if this is where Succession is heading, by the way. Like if Logan gets visited by ghosts and suddenly becomes the most charitable sweetheart on the face of the planet. I suppose we can’t rule it out.
THE MARLEYS – Stephen Root and Jennifer Coolidge as husband and wife
Three things are true here.
The first is that Stephen Root rules, every time, in everything, and I have no doubt he would do so once again as a wisecracking version of Jacob Marley who shows up at night to freak out Scrooge and tell him more ghosts are a-comin’. Most movies and television shows should have Stephen Root in them.
The second thing is that there are no rules here. We can play with the form all we want. The Muppets replaced Jacob Marley with “the Marleys” as an excuse to have Statler and Waldorf say bad jokes to Michael Caine. We should all take note of this and learn from it, both in this specific situation and in general. Anything is possible.
The third thing, as we all know, is that Jennifer Coolidge also rules.
Stephen Root and Jennifer Coolidge as married ghosts who show up on Christmas Eve to give Brian Cox an ominous warning and maybe do a few silly bits. I would watch two hours of just, like, that. You would, too. Don’t lie. But it gets better, because…
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT – Jack Black
The Ghost of Christmas Present is the first spirit that visits Scrooge and is usually depicted as a big gregarious dude who likes to party and drink and eat. There has never been a role more perfectly suited for Jack Black. He can give it the full Jack Black, too, with singing and riffs and filthy cussing because, as we have established, things are getting wild here. I don’t even need to type anything else. I can just end this paragraph… now.
I’m actually kind of mad this one hasn’t happened already.
BOB CRATCHIT – Charlie Day
Bob Cratchit is always some vanilla cookie who has no real personality beyond “likes Christmas” and “works for Scrooge” and “loves his family,” which, like, fine. But what this hypothetical film presupposes is… what if he were kind of a maniac? It’s a fair question. I want to see Charlie Day screeching around old-timey London with a scarf and top hat and enough manic energy pulsing off of his body to power the entire city.
Let your mind run wild with this one. It’s a good time.
MRS. CRATCHIT – Vanessa Bayer
You know who’s great? Vanessa Bayer. Every damn time, too. It’s the misdirection, really, I think, the thing where she has this sweet and innocent face and then you look in her eyes and there’s this devious twinkle in there that gives away the wildfire burning behind them. Look at that video up there. Look at any of the characters she plays on SNL. Mrs. Cratchit is kind of a nothing role in the grand scheme of this sucker and I feel bad sticking Vanessa Bayer with it but I feel like she could bring a little anarchy to the proceedings in the best way possible.
Let’s pencil this one in.
TINY TIM – Kyle Mooney
A few notes:
- Tiny Tim is a young child with a slew of unspecified medical problems that range from a thin little cough to mobility issues
- Kyle Mooney is a fully-grown adult who at many times has at least a partially former beard
- I… still think this works.
Sleep on it. I think you’ll agree. See above re: no rules.
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST – Patti Harrison
This spirit is typically portrayed as a young-ish girl with flowing robes and semi-translucent body and a kind of creepy/calm vibe. Which is great. Shoutout to Charles Dickens. But we are going to cast Patti Harrison. You know Patti Harrison. She’s in a bunch of sketches from I Think You Should Leave and she steals every one of them. She’s usually yelling. It’s great.
So… that’s the deal here. Patti Harrison dragging Brian Cox through his past, yelling at him a little, just getting all kinds of weird about it. This is probably the one I’m most excited about. I feel great about it. Merry Christmas.
Hey, while we’re in the past…
YOUNG SCROOGE – Cillian Murphy
Just burning holes through people with that icy glare, smoking cigarettes, the whole thing. He doesn’t even need to change out of his wardrobe from Peaky Blinders. He can just strut over between takes there and film a scene or two and then strut right back. It’s almost too easy, really.
FEZZIWIG – Sam Richardson
The trick here is that Fezziwig is Young Scrooge’s mentor and Cillian Murphy is not nearly young enough to be mentored by a character played by Sam Richardson. But problems like this create opportunities, and this one leads us to a solution I am, quite frankly, thrilled about: Sam Richardson in old man makeup.
Take a second right now and get this mental image: Sam Richardson, with all his goofy and fun energy, bouncing around his office building and mingling with the staff, slapping backs and handing out holiday bonuses, oozing charm out of every visible orifice, and then… Cillian Murphy. Just staring at him. Smoking a cigarette. And then stubbing it out. And saying “humbug.”
This is a great idea.
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE – Danny McBride
I know, I know. The Ghost of Christmas Future is usually silent, or at least mostly silent. He has a robe and a creepy, bony appearance and just generally looks like death incarnate as he takes Scrooge through a future where he’s unloved and forgotten and buried in a grave that no one comes to visit.
But, as a counterpoint: What if he was Danny McBride? What if, when he pointed at Scrooge’s grave with his index finger, instead of doing so with an ominous quiet doom implied, he just shouted, like, “LOOK AT THAT, DUMBASS. YOU’RE DEAD. BET YOU WISH YOU’D BEEN BETTER, HUH?”
I think it would work. I think it would all work. Or fail miserably. Either way, definitely worth watching.