Christmas Carol: The Movie

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Christmas Carol: The Movie Movie Poster Image
Milder than some versions of classic but still a bit scary.
  • PG
  • 2003
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Exposure to Victorian-era England's Christmas rituals, customs, and way of life.

Positive Messages

Christmas Carol: The Movie espouses strong messages of the transformational power of soul-searching and reconsidering one's past actions, treatment of others, sense of connectedness in the world, and an individual's capacity for change.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although some characters seem simplistically bad and others simplistically good, their dynamic nature and their capacity for change makes them more well-developed than they initially seem.

Violence & Scariness

The film has little violence but does portray sustained peril and fright as ghosts clank in chains, haunt Ebenezer, and stir up mighty winds and chaos upon entering and exiting. Additionally, the Victorian setting, foreboding music and tone, and bah-humbug attitudes of some characters may be frightening to young children.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Christmas Carol: The Movie is faithful enough to the original Dickens classic in its presentation of peril, hardship, poverty, and the fright of clanking ghosts and scary, mean grown-ups. However, the animation and a few friendly mice make this version a bit softer take that's more suitable for young children. 

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What's the story?

Ebenezer Scrooge (voiced by Simon Callow) is a miserly man who would much rather collect debts on Christmas and throw debtors in prison than rethink his greedy, mean-spirited ways. Everything changes thanks to the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, and the persistent humanity of ghost Jacob Marley (voiced by Nicolas Cage) and Belle (voiced by Kate Winslet), who conspire to show him the error of his ways.

Is it any good?

The animation is competent and reminiscent of late-'90s-era cartoons, and the voice work by Kate Winslet, Simon Callow, and Nicolas Cage up the movie's overall heft. Though purists may quibble with some of the liberties taken here in the framing of this story, bookended via live-action sequences of a dramatic reading of the original work, it is largely faithful to the original's plot and message.

For parents, this is a reliable take on the original that will get the job done, and the potential fright for young viewers likely will be offset by the mice who buffer the ghosts, clanking and haunting their way through Scrooge's life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about helping others. What can you do to help improve the lives of others who are facing hard times?

  • Have you ever known grouchy people who seem mean or unhappy? Sometimes it's helpful to think about what might have happened to them to shape their personality or experiences and to better understand why people have different dispositions.

  • What would you do if you could see into the future? Would you want to see how your life turns out? Why, or why not? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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