Join 3,573 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A Very Michael Caine Christmas To You
December 29, 2012 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Michael Caine is frank about his experiences on the set of The Muppet Christmas Carol. posted by Foci for Analysis (57 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel dirty, and my childhood is destroyed.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:24 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Funny, sort of, but I was really hoping it was actually Michael Caine talking about his actual experiences on the film, which is my wife's favorite holiday movie. Oh well, I'll show it to her anyway.
posted by Huck500 at 10:24 AM on December 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Nope. Sorry. Hi-fucking-larious.
posted by Peevish at 10:29 AM on December 29, 2012


YUAH NAGHT DEWIN IT THE WAY E SPEAKS.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:30 AM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah, it's right there in the post. Sorry.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:33 AM on December 29, 2012


There are two kinds of people I can't stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch.
posted by Talez at 10:35 AM on December 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


I laughed - Gonzo hates fraggles, Dr Honeydew has no eyes.

So I've been trying to figure this out: I like Michael Caine, I adore the Muppets, I love almost everything the Henson workshop has ever done (Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Storyteller, Farscape) and I love The Muppets' Family Christmas so I'm not anti-holiday, but I was really disappointed when I first saw The Muppets' Christmas Carol. Maybe it was the weird mixture of human characters, established Muppet characters (Gonzo, et al), and original (and serious) puppets. Any two of the three might have worked, but all three was just messy. It was disappointing enough that I never even bothered with the Treasure Island movie (Tim Curry notwithstanding).

That said, I adored Muppets from Space, which some other Muppet fans seem to abhor, so maybe it's just one of those split the fandom things.
posted by jb at 10:36 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, I'd forgotten Michael Caine was Scrooge in this movie.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:36 AM on December 29, 2012


As someone who actually does not like the Muppet Christmas Carol, I enjoyed this very much. Fank yew.
posted by emjaybee at 10:38 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joint best film adaptation of A Christmas Carol with Scrooged.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


love it!
posted by greenhornet at 10:48 AM on December 29, 2012


This was funnier than I expected.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:56 AM on December 29, 2012


Mr. hippybear is a huge Dickens fan, and one year we managed to catch 27 (twenty-seven) versions of A Christmas Carol over the course of the Xmas season.

Muppet Christmas Carol is easily in the top 3 of all those we have seen.

I'm sorry this video isn't actually Michael Caine talking about his experiences making the movie.

But that video is pretty hilarious nonetheless.
posted by hippybear at 11:03 AM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Could have done without the Jew joke. And it got tired about halfway through.

I was hoping this would have been Michael Caine actually talking about his experiences on set. That would have been more entertaining and, probably, a lot funnier.
posted by asnider at 11:10 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


My cocaine.
posted by ColdChef at 11:17 AM on December 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


five in-ap-pro-pri-ate thoooooughts
posted by infinitewindow at 11:22 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Amusing, but he doesn't sound enough like Caine to really nail it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:30 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're looking for an amusing actual DVD commentary, check out John Boorman's for Zardoz. Clearly a bit embarrassed by the film, at first he does his best to try and explain what he was going for, but winds up recommending you fast-forward through parts of the film, laughing nervously at others and lamenting his own "hubris."
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:35 AM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Another amusing DVD commentary is Brian Blessed's Flash Gordon track. It would be amusing anyway, even if Blessed just talked over the top, but he comes across as funny, game for a laugh, and knowledgable about the film.

I found this painfully unfunny, apart from "he's got no bloody eyes". Although I don't think Jewish jokes are funny (who does, really?) and I know the difference between a Caine impression and a South African impression.
posted by The River Ivel at 11:49 AM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The guys in the second link are pretty good, though.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:51 AM on December 29, 2012


Quit at the Jewish joke - offensive and made me utterly disinterested in the rest.
posted by leslies at 11:53 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was very much not good, in pretty much every way.

(I think this is the first negative comment I've ever made directly concerning a Metafilter post - generally I follow Thumper's rule here. That's how very much not good this is.)
posted by jammy at 12:01 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, just watched the third link: Michael Caine does Michael Caine

That was damn funny.
posted by jammy at 12:05 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best line: "He's got no bloody eyes!". The impersonation starts quitting as it goes on, worth watching for the Miss Piggy joke at the end.
posted by arcticseal at 12:05 PM on December 29, 2012


The Jewish joke was indeed stupid, and also clearly failed at the intended goal of offending people and being stupid!
posted by freebird at 12:07 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Michael Caine is an interesting exception to the British actors discussion from that other thread. No formal training (I think), but he did work in theatre. He has the exact same accent in every role, and pretty much just plays different versions of himself in each movie. But it's always fun to see him because he's got so much charisma and can really make you feel what he's feeling on the screen. He's sort of an old fashioned movie star.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:12 PM on December 29, 2012


Michael Caine's Acting Masterclass

A better impersonation IMHO.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:17 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


So I've been trying to figure this out: I like Michael Caine, I adore the Muppets, I love almost everything the Henson workshop has ever done (Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Storyteller, Farscape) and I love The Muppets' Family Christmas so I'm not anti-holiday, but I was really disappointed when I first saw The Muppets' Christmas Carol.

IMO (and apologies in advance to hippybear), it's very difficult to do a version of A Christmas Carol that still has a lot of impact. It seems as if every English male actor of a certain age has done their own version, there are versions set in modern times, a wacky comedy version, and, God bless us ev'ry one, a version that's basically a fantasy about Michael Moore having a conservative conversion.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:25 PM on December 29, 2012


I thought it was pretty funny, although the "my cocaine" joke freaked me out a little. Just yesterday I misheard Michael Caine as "my cocaine" and now here it is in a Youtube clip. (It's just the lattice of coincidence, my friend, don't go lookin' for answers.)

(Please ignore my stupid pseudonym as you read the following paragraph. Thank you.)

I don't think the Jewish joke is supposed to be genuinely anti-Semitic. I think they were just trying to make Caine say every shocking, crude, offensive joke they could think of. I mean, they have him taking drugs, having sex with pig puppets... I think there's even a bit of pedophilia in there. (Not sure how old the girl he "banged" is supposed to be.) The joke is supposed to be that Caine is an amusing terrible person, not that Jews are greedy. I think.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:27 PM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


No formal training (I think), but he did work in theatre. He has the exact same accent in every role, and pretty much just plays different versions of himself in each movie. But it's always fun to see him because he's got so much charisma and can really make you feel what he's feeling on the screen. He's sort of an old fashioned movie star.
Oddly, he got his big break when Peter o'Toole dropped out of a stage play to do Laurence of Arabia - he was understudying, and took over the role for a four-month run.

I think people are often dismissive of Caine's range, and there's a degree of truth - people tend to cast Michael Caine because they want Michael Caine - but I feel like he has more range, or at least more adaptability, than people give him credit for. He is also probably limited by the roles available for actors his age, and especially British actors his age. But, for example, in the 70s he was able to move from Get Carter to The Italian Job - even though he is playing a Cockney mobster in both, that's a remarkable change of tone...

(I checked out at the Jews lol as well - not because I didn't understand what the comic was aiming for, but because it wasn't handled well enough to suggest that the comic was in control of his craft.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:37 PM on December 29, 2012


Metafilter: In this scene, I tried to emphasize the point that I was smarter & better than everyone else. I touch people, I stare at people, I look around, I pretend I gave a shit, but I didn't gave a shat.
posted by Perko at 12:43 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone mentioned how good the current Muppet movie was? Because it was very good.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Has anyone mentioned how good the current Muppet movie was? Because it was very good.

I saw it the other day, and it really is very good, isn't it? Although I was a little confused by the 80s robot. Was that purely a Rocky reference, or did the Muppets have a robot?
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:55 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


IMO (and apologies in advance to hippybear), it's very difficult to do a version of A Christmas Carol that still has a lot of impact.

Well, yes. And believe me, having done a pretty comprehensive survey (we've watched at least a dozen new versions of the story since our marathon those years ago), we've sort of nailed down why this is so.

The stumbling blocks seem to be over-referencing the source material, lack of character development, leaving out or misplacing The Dark in the story, and failing to connect with Dickens' humor. There are many a potentially fine Christmas Carols out there which end up having their life sucked out because they fall into one or more of these traps.

The Muppet Christmas Carol manages to avoid all these traps. It pays enough homage to the original material while avoiding being overly literal either with Dickens' prose or with with Leech's illustrations. It uses the Meta-ness Of Muppet and the shortcut of song to provide character development. It is appropriately dark in the right places. And it has a lot of humor, perhaps not directly Dickens humor (although much is).
posted by hippybear at 12:56 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


"I think people are often dismissive of Caine's range, and there's a degree of truth - people tend to cast Michael Caine because they want Michael Caine - but I feel like he has more range, or at least more adaptability, than people give him credit for. He is also probably limited by the roles available for actors his age, and especially British actors his age. But, for example, in the 70s he was able to move from Get Carter to The Italian Job - even though he is playing a Cockney mobster in both, that's a remarkable change of tone..."

Oh absolutely, Caine's a really good actor. He's there in the movie, experiencing the events going on, and not wooden or self consciously "acting." You feel it with him. But he's not like (I don't know what the technical term would be), he's not Meryl Streep dissapearing into the character. He's always a version of his own persona, just transplanted into different times and places.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:07 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


five in-ap-pro-pri-ate thoooooughts

*BA-DUM-BUM-BUM*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:45 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Turkeys, THOUSANDS of 'em!
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:47 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Muppet Christmas Carol is worth it for "Light the lamp, not the rat - LIGHT THE LAMP, NOT THE RAT!"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:52 PM on December 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think people are often dismissive of Caine's range, and there's a degree of truth - people tend to cast Michael Caine because they want Michael Caine - but I feel like he has more range, or at least more adaptability, than people give him credit for.

See, for instance, Sleuth—the first one. It's really excellent.
posted by kenko at 2:15 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think the Jewish joke is supposed to be genuinely anti-Semitic. I think they were just trying to make Caine say every shocking, crude, offensive joke they could think of.

Ironic racism is still racist, and doesn't belong anywhere.
posted by smoke at 2:33 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the current Muppet movie was not that good at all, but I'm not sure why. It just didn't ring true for me.

And Michael Cain's best role, IMO, is in Children of Men. It's the only time the 'pull my finger' joke makes me cry...

The Muppet Christmas Carol is worth it for "Light the lamp, not the rat - LIGHT THE LAMP, NOT THE RAT!"

Yes, my wife's favorite line... I hear it all year.

Finally, the Patrick Stewart Christmas Carol is also pretty damn good. Marley's jaw falling open freaks me out every time.
posted by Huck500 at 2:41 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ironic racism is still racist, and doesn't belong anywhere.

Except for in jokes, of course.
posted by gcbv at 2:55 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was a little confused by the 80s robot. Was that purely a Rocky reference, or did the Muppets have a robot?

I think it was only partially a Rocky 4 reference, and more of an overall meta-reference to '80s pop culture's tendency to shoehorn unnecessary robots into everything, from Riptide to Clash of the Titans. Since the Muppets' last true heyday was in the 1980s, it makes sense that Kermit & Piggy would spend their mad-money on a robot butler.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:52 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This came up on Ask the other day.

I pretty much concur with hippybear re: The Muppet Christmas Carol and why it works. It's faithful to Dickens in the important ways and it's the right sort of musical.
posted by brennen at 4:03 PM on December 29, 2012


Two items of note from the IMDB trivia page for this movie:

"Michael Caine considers the role of Scrooge to be one of his most memorable (to him) roles.

David Hemmings, Ron Moody, David Warner, and George Carlin were among the actors who were considered for the role of Scrooge, before Michael Caine was chosen."


The first note is just sort of cute, and puts this parody video in a different light. The second is a little mind-blowing. Moody, Hemmings, Warner, sure... But, George Carlin, as Scrooge? Brilliant as he was, I have a really hard time picturing him as a flinty old British guy, singing songs...

I think most adaptations of the story end up being pretty good, because it's just such a solid structure with so much vivid, affecting imagery to play with. Scrooged and the Muppet version have their good points, but I'll stick with the ones that follow the original a bit more closely. The Patrick Stewart one is terrific.

For my money, the saddest scene from any Christmas Carol adaptation comes from the Mr. Magoo version, amazingly enough.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:32 PM on December 29, 2012


I read something on Tommy Lee Jones today that said, "Nobody ever said 'There was too much Tommy Lee Jones in this movie.'" I feel the same way about Michael Caine. It's easy to stereotype him as just playing himself now that he's entered the late-era grace period we extend to awesome actors we enjoy, but some of his early work is really fantastic and less Michael-Caine-playing-Michael-Caine.

Also any version of Christmas Carol without Statler and Waldorf is incomplete.

"It's good to be heckling again!"
"It's good to be doing anything again!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:05 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although I don't think Jewish jokes are funny (who does, really?)

I have enjoyed jokes about many religions, why leave out Jewish folks? How do you even govern what you are willing to find funny ahead of time?

Of course the joke in this video was terribly weak taken on its own, but the idea of Michael Caine delivering it makes me giggle a little.
posted by floam at 6:27 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Michael Caine impersonating Michael Caine sounds a lot like Sid Snot.
posted by h00py at 7:41 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Michael Caine on Jaws: The Revenge: "I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:41 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did he just say looking at Beaker is like looking at a penis? Poor Beaker. Mee mee mee.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:55 AM on December 30, 2012


A while back, may be a year or so, Radio 4 did a long interview with Caine, and he came over as an interesting intelligent guy with a lot of insight into his own career. And some of the anecdotes are no less bizarre than this actual vid - like deciding to marry the woman who became his second wife after seeing her once in a coffee advert.

Oh and these people who think Caine always plays the same person need to do a triple bill of Alfie, Zulu and Get Carter
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:22 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have never seen The Man Who Would Be King, directed by John Huston, with Michael Caine and Sean Connery, please correct this omission promptly. Bonus article about the movie, which is set in in Afghanistan though filmed in Morocco, and the US War in Afghanistan.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Caine is the best Scrooge on film. The fact that he delivered this performance alongside Muppets makes it even more awesome.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:27 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Caine is the best Scrooge on film. The fact that he delivered this performance alongside Muppets makes it even more awesome.

That and that his performance doesn't vary one inch from where it would be if he WASN'T performing alongside muppets.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw, that is exactly what I meant. Extract his performance and nothing would indicate in any way that it was from a Muppet film. No other Scrooge, for me, delivers the goods as well.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:36 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, I found that the Muppets made the Christmas Carol work better - with the muppets around you could slip straight into magical realism - meaning you could accept the ghosts as part of the world and get on with the story. So you not only have the best Scrooge on film, you have the least jarring ghosts on film.
posted by Francis at 3:27 PM on December 31, 2012


Alastair Sim was and always will be the best Scrooge (though the colourised version is a crime against humanity)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:39 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older 2012's Best News Bloopers...   |   Test run through Taxco, Mexico... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments