It's the holiday season once again, which means it's time to watch loads of Christmas movies and specials. But in this day and age where few people maintain physical movie libraries of VHS, DVDs, or Blu-rays since streaming everything is just so much easier, it can sometimes be difficult to find out where to stream some of these old holiday classics. Take, for instance, The Muppet Christmas Carol. This is a must-watch for the holiday season, but it may not be so obvious where you can do so. So here's how to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol this holiday season.
The movie is currently available on HBO, meaning that you can stream it if you're a subscriber to HBO NOW or HBO GO. However, since it's on HBO, that means it's not currently on any other subscription-based streaming platforms. So if you were hoping to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, then you're out of luck. Now, if you're not an HBO subscriber, then your next option would be to rent the film online and watch it that way. This can be done through all of the usual avenues — iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu — all of which offer rentals starting at $2.99. But before you start subscribing to HBO or renting this movie, there's something about it you should know.
There are actually two different versions of this movie that exist, one that has the excellent song "When Love Is Gone," and one that does not. The song in question occurs during the scene where the Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge the moment when his relationship ended with Belle. It's a powerful, tear-jerking song and is perhaps the film's most poignant moment. But if you stream the film online, you're not going to see this song at all.
Back when the movie was released theatrically in 1992, Disney axed the song from the final cut. Rumors suggest it was the decision of executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, according to Inverse's Winston Cook-Wilson, who thought children would be bored by having to sit through a love song in which no Muppets appear. So the song was cut from the film against the wishes of director Brian Henson, and this cut version is unfortunately the only one you can stream on HBO or anywhere else online. If you do go the streaming route, go ahead and pause it when you get to the break up scene and then watch the song on YouTube before continuing the movie. You can find several copies on the site, and one such example is included below.
Henson did manage to get the scene reinstated in the film's VHS releases in the '90s, and it was most recently included on the 20th anniversary DVD release, which contains both the widescreen and full screen versions of the film (the full screen is the one you want). This version is no longer in production, but you can find copies on Ebay — though they often don't come cheap. That's because the song is important to the film for both character development, adding real emotional depth to the consequences of Scrooge's actions, and to the plot overall. The edited scene that omits the song frankly makes no sense, as it abruptly cuts to Rizzo the Rat crying after a brief and not terribly emotional conversation between Scrooge and Belle, but he's really crying because of the song. Also, the song itself is reprised at the very end of the film with new lyrics in "When Love Is Found," showing how Scrooge has come full circle. Out of context, this, too, makes little sense.
If you stream The Muppet Christmas Carol this holiday season, you won't get the full experience of seeing "When Love Is Gone." For that, you'll have to either watch the song on YouTube, buy the 20th anniversary DVD, or dust off your old VCR and dig out the VHS copy you had when you were young.