November 6, 2009 at 8:12 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'A Christmas Carol' -- GRADE: C

Review: Creepy 3-D 'A Christmas Carol' deserves a lump of coal

Jim Carrey is the ugly Ebenezer Scrooge in the uncharitable holiday tale directed by Robert Zemeckis, creator of "The Polar Express." (Disney Pictures)

Want the creeps for Christmas?

Then check out the latest version of "A Christmas Carol."

It opens with a realistic-looking corpse lying in a coffin, then follows possibly the ugliest Scrooge ever conceived through all manner of nightmarish encounters with his past, present and future. If you want to make sure your four 4-year-old doesn't sleep for a year, bring him or her to this movie.

The entire concept of this film is a question mark. Obviously, the vast majority of moviegoers already know the story -- it's been done on film by everyone from Mickey Mouse to George C. Scott to the Muppets. What can director Robert Zemeckis ("The Polar Express") bring to the table that's new?

Well, a bundle of 3-D special effects, that's for sure. And Jim Carrey playing not only Scrooge but a variety of ghosts as well. Actually, he's not playing them, he's modeling for that weird zombie-like animation thing that Zemeckis loves so much.

The other thing Zemeckis brings is a strong sense of the grim circumstances of Victorian London. Thus the opening corpse, a group of starving children and assorted other mean observances.

All of which may be true to Dickens, but they're not a lot of laughs. Again, despite its Disney origins, think twice about bringing small kids.

So who will like "A Christmas Carol"? Special effects and 3-D freaks, maybe. Zemeckis has actually improved the zombie-fied look of his animated characters. Carrey's Ebenezer Scrooge truly comes to ugly life, although most of the supporting characters still seem vaguely cross-eyed. As does this spectacularly unneeded version of "A Christmas Carol."

Yes, it could be made this way... but why bother?

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