By Eric Huber Special to Published Dec 13, 2009 at 5:19 AM

"Bah Humbug!"

"If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly. "Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"


It's the only word that could possibly describe this line proclaimed early in any rendition of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" by old Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

It's also the line that sticks unlike any other no matter if you see the new Disney movie featuring Jim Carrey or the play version that continues to truck along strong at The Pabst Theater.

Below you will find two quick reviews of the new movie and the never-too-old play. Afterward, I'll give you the reasons why everyone, and I mean everyone, has to go and see this Christmas tale that has been bringing joy to the season for almost 166 years.

The Movie (3 out of 4 stars)
So there I sat with the advanced 3-D glasses covering my eyes -- waiting with a half Humbug, surrounded by too many bodies for my liking, all chomping annoyingly on buttery popcorn and slurping soft drinks much to the delight of the theater managers.

Then the snowflakes fall and his face comes in to view. I hear whispers simultaneously: "Is this animated?" That's right; Scrooge's old, disturbing face looks so real, as he stands over Jacob Marley‘s dead body, that it puts a smile on my face; a positive start to what was soon to be a dark-to-light, fantastic story.

With the eerie feeling of a horror movie in the air, Scrooge flies through the countryside, before snowboarding like a child through the old city that sees him as a mere grouch.

The special effects were phenomenal. The realism and heart-stopping sights and sounds keep you on the edge of your seat.

Your adrenaline will pump like the steam engine in the last Disney animated Christmas movie "Polar Express." Your knees will get weak as you see Scrooge's future. And most of all, your heart will fill with joy when you see the unbelievable finish to a movie that everyone should see.

Well, that is if you don't see the play first.

The Play (4 out of 4 stars)
As it is, the historic Pabst Theater is the place to be for a good play, but what happened when I witnessed a fantastic play with the holiday spirit and cold wind swirling around Downtown?

Arriving exactly on time with balls of wet snow flaking all over my red sweater, and one very fast beating heart as the introduction is being read, I take my seat seven rows from the front and on the right side of the theater.

The play begins with song and dance, as it should. Without even many noticing, the merry characters make their way to the front of the stage and the first scene is set. Scrooge takes his ink pen and starts writing with conviction as the rest of the cast scatters away.

This was typical throughout. The scene settings were so well-organized you didn't even know they were happening at times. The lines were flawless, and the Ghost of Christmas Present was so entertaining I continued to laugh inside even when he was off stage. Most important, the theatre itself felt comfortable and was so alive.

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year," Scrooge proclaimed. "I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

James Pickering's depiction of Scrooge was so good, it was almost real. He left everything he had on the stage; the ugly, sad, and jovial sides of an average old man with a storied past who was merely looking for acceptance.

As usual, Scrooge was the Christmas Carol. However, there were other moments that were not only depicted in the play, but the movie as well, that are worthy of noting and watching for when you delight your soul and decide to see this timeless, never old classic.

Top 3 Favorite Moments (Both)
Scrooge's nephew goes to his uncle's business to wish him a Merry Christmas and ask him if he wants to come to dinner. Scrooge denies him and quickly viewers see why he really is a bitter old man.

Scrooge says: "What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you?"

* When the ghost of Christmas present takes the bitter old man to his clerk's family home, the Cratchits, Scrooge finds out how truly appreciated he is by his employee, and how truly hated he is by Mrs. Cratchit as the family toasts to Christmas.

"Mr Scrooge!" said Bob. "I'll give you Mr Scrooge, the founder of the feast!"

"The founder of the feast indeed!" cried Mrs Cratchit, reddening. "I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it."

* Bob Cratchit, in all his merriness from the previous day, returns to work for Ebenezer, but is a full 18 and one half minutes late. Mr. Cratchit fears the worst as Scrooge raises his voice in bitterness. Little did he know that his boss was a changed man and was ready to lift his spirits.

"Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge, "I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore," he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the tank again: "and therefore I am about to raise your salary!"

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it; holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

"A merry Christmas, Bob!" said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit."

As I sat back and pondered both amazing renditions of such a fantastic tale, I could not get past how much of a genius Charles Dickens was to write in this manner.

I mean, he literally turned one man from a bitter old soul, into a merry old school-boy while teaching him and the audience that going through life selfishly and cold will only leave you stranded alone when the funeral bells ring.

He brought the spirit of the holiday out of probably the nastiest and dark, but most realistic character seen in any Christmas tale, ever.

I mean, the fact that you can't even count the number of times it's being performed across the country and even the world on several hands each year speaks volumes of the impact it has made since being introduced in 1843.

There is nothing like it, and the message that it sends is a message that everyone in this world needs to hear, especially those who are far better off with family, friends, and a place to call home. It makes you appreciate what you have, and makes you want to do more for those in need.

And as I walked out of the Pabst Theater that evening and placed my only form of green, a crisp one dollar bill, into one of the many baskets asking for donations for a cause, I could still hear Tiny Tim‘s exclamation, an exclamation that no soul, good or bad, can ever forget upon hearing.

"God bless us, every one!"

Hear it?

Well, then go see "A Christmas Carol," take your family and friends with you, and have a pleasant and safe holiday season.


Eric Huber Special to
Eric Huber is a staff writer for, and