Jim Carrey's "A Christmas Carol" Creepy in a Good Way

Filed under: Movies

When I heard about the latest version of "A Christmas Carol," which opens today and stars Jim Carrey in multiple roles (he's Scrooge, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future), I went in with low expectations for this motion-capture-animated flick.

I'll admit this right up front: I'm not a huge fan of the motion-capture method of animation. If you're not familiar with that term, think "Polar Express." It was the first major movie created with motion-capture technology, and to me, it was a little creepy, and gave the characters a sort of soulless, dead-eyed look.

The next major film to use the technology was "Beowulf," starring Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich and more big-name, respected actors. The creepiness factor didn't bother me so much with this one because it wasn't a movie that was meant to be a heartwarming holiday tale; it was a grown-up take on a literary classic -- a violent, monster-filled fable.

But the whole enterprise left me wondering. Since the actors had to walk through their scenes in order for filmmakers to capture the motions, why animate the film at all? The characters -- with a few exceptions -- looked similar to the real actors, making it seem like it was a movie made with video-game avatars.

So, here comes "A Christmas Carol." I brought three things along with me to watch this film: Two of my kids -- age 11 and 12 -- and plenty of trepidation.

The surprising conclusion? Motion-capture animation makes sense for this movie.

Director Robert Zemeckis (who directed "Polar" and "Beowulf," so apparently he can't get enough of motion capture) has a dark vision for this retelling of the classic holiday tale. The ghosts are scary (be warned, younger kids may be freaked out), and the whole look of the film is dark -- there were some parts that were so murky it was a little hard to see what was going on. But the motion-capture technology was a good choice to showcase Jim Carrey's versatility without getting cheesy. Can you imagine if he'd played all those characters in a live-action movie? It would've ruined any sense of the Zemeckis scary factor.

Bottom line: I'm still not completely sold on motion capture, but I would definitely recommend "A Christmas Carol" for kids 10 and older. The film has substance, humor, a good message ... and a nice dose of creepiness, giving it a little edge that's often missing from standard, cookie-cutter holiday fare.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to seeing "A Christmas Carol"?

Watch more "Christmas Carol" trailers & clips
Jim Carrey's Best Movies

Angie Argabrite, our guest movie reporter, is the features editor for our sister sites, Moviefone and AOL Television.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.