Sunday, December 14, 2014
“If Quite Convenient, Sir" | Jim Carrey (2009)
Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project
Jim Carrey's Scrooge is perhaps the most odious of them all. From his repulsive appearance to his naked disgust of all other humans, he's aggressively, intentionally offensive. Gary Oldman's Cratchit is also offensive, but in a different way. He's an idiot.
There are other simpleton Cratchits (and we'll be coming up on some of them shortly), but Oldman's has a vacant expression and an unaware grin that make him seem more House Elf than human. Which may be why Scrooge tolerates him. This Cratchit has no will of his own, so he's no challenge to Scrooge's misanthropic view of humanity. If all people were like this Cratchit, I'd hate them too.
I'm being very hard on this Cratchit, but there's potential for a very great lesson to be learned here. I don't think I'm alone in sometimes being tempted to judge the people around me. I don't do it all the time, but I question motives and intelligence more often than I should. One of the lessons that Scrooge - and I - can learn in this version is that there's more to Cratchit than first appears. Maybe he's actually as stupid as he looks, but that doesn't mean he's without value.
We get a hint of that after he and Scrooge leave for the day. Their conversation goes pretty much as Dickens wrote it, with Carrey and Oldman's performances supporting the interpretations of the characters as I've described them. They also leave the office together, though it's Scrooge who locks the door, presumably not trusting Cratchit with the responsibility. That's part commentary on his feelings about Cratchit, but it's also consistent with his feelings about everyone. In fact, this Scrooge not only locks the office door, but also shakes the locks to make sure they're sound.
Cratchit stands still for a moment and watches as Scrooge shuffles into the fog. Then the music becomes festive and Cratchit begins to giggle and shake in excitement. It's Christmas Eve and he's like a little kid. He runs around the corner, sees some boys sliding on a long patch of ice, and joins them.
That's when I realize what Oldman is doing with this performance. He's playing Cratchit as a small child. That's super creepy to look at and it still says very unflattering things about Cratchit's mental ability, but it's an interesting choice that I'm curious to see play out over the course of the film.