A Carol Christmas (2003) – reviewed by George

At the start I thought this was a Grinch-type movie, but it turned out quickly to be a version of “A Christmas Carol”, with Tori Spelling very good as Carole Cartman, a real Scrooge. She’s a daytime TV star with her own interview show, and no one who works for her likes her; indeed they all fear her. She’s so awful that I didn’t want her reformed, I wanted someone to throw her into a wood chipper. The way she treats her assistant Roberta (Nina Siemaszko), and her floor manager Jimmy (Michael Landes), and really everyone else on the crew, is cruel and belittling. She’s even nasty to Hal, her producer (Holmes Osbourne). Being ee-vil to Roberta is especially bad because Roberta has a daughter Lily (Holliston Coleman), and Carol’s demands keep Roberta late when she ought to be home with Lily.
Well, Carol’s Aunt Marla (Dinah Manoff), who has died, appears to her to announce three spirits who will visit Carol to show and teach her how wrong Marla really was about: Making people wait for you, Treating people as if they’re expendable, Forgetting all relationships because you are Number One, and Generally being as nasty as you can in order to maintain control.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is Gary Coleman, who can certainly tell Carol a thing or two about the temporary nature of fame. The Ghost of Christmas Present is Dr. Bob (William Shatner) who has a competing daytime show as an advice giver. And The Ghost of Christmas Future, who does not speak, is dressed as a chauffeur. I did not recognize him from earlier in the movie, but maybe he played a chauffeur?
Anyway, Carol is stubborn, but eventually learns her lesson and reunites with John (Jason Brooks) a former suitor who has always been generous and committed to others, and has been running shelters for years. And she reconnects with her sister Beth (Paula Trickey) who has a husband and two really cute (and polite) kids.
The story perks right along, and though you know it well, it is nice to see Carol retrieved from the wood chipper.
If I haven’t made it clear, and I fear I have not: Roberta is Bob Cratchit (making Lily Tiny Tim), John is Belle, and Beth is Nephew Fred (not sister Fan who is dead). A worthy version of the Dickens tale and one I wish I had known about a few years ago when I reviewed 23 versions of “A Christmas Carol” during one Christmas season (available right here at bickering critics; just back up forever).

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