Jim Carrey has described the film as "a classical version of A Christmas Carol. There are a lot of vocal things, a lot of physical things, I have to do. Not to mention doing the accents properly, the English, Irish accents. I want it to fly in the UK. I want it to be good and I want them to go, 'Yeah, that's for real.' We were very true to the book. It's beautiful. It's an incredible film."
The movie is set in the year 1843. At the beginning of the film, when Scrooge signs Marley's death certificate, it is dated "1836." A subtitle tells us that Scrooge's encounter with the spirits takes place, "Seven Christmas Eves Later," making it 1843. Also, the Ghost of Christmas Present mentions that he has "eighteen-hundred forty-two brothers." The year, 1843, is significant; it is the year that Charles Dickens wrote and published "A Christmas Carol."
During the opening credits, as you fly through the old London city roof tops, you can see the 2nd London Bridge. By this time, it was just 12 years old and remained in London for another 124 years before it was dismantled and sold to an American in 1967. It can now be seen spanning Bridgewater Channel in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA.
After sending the prize turkey on to Bob Cratchit's house, Scrooge grabs onto the back of a carriage and hangs on for a ride down the street, waving to people. Many viewers saw this as a nod to one of Robert Zemeckis' previous works, Back to the Future (1985). However, when asked about it in an interview, Zemeckis said that had not occurred to him but reasoned it was a subconscious image.
It appears that the pennies used in the opening scenes are Australian pennies (not English). You can see what appears to be the word Australia and the tails of kangaroos. A possible animators "Easter Egg".
Though not mentioned in the book or other film and radio adaptations Scrooge's birthday is February 7th. Plus Scooge's 'future tombstone' claims he was born in 1786 meaning Scrooge was 57 years old during most of the film but was 50 years old when Marley died in 1836.
This is the Disney Company's third involvement with an adaption of A Christmas Carol, the first being Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) and the other, The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), thus making this Disney adaption the first not to have the roles played by other character (ie, Mickey Mouse/Kermit as Bob Crachit, Goofy/Statler as Jacob Marley, etc.)
This film is the third version where Marley is seen deceased. The first was the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim and the second was the 2004 television musical film starring Kelsey Grammer. It is the third film adaptation to open with Marley's death after the 1984 and 1999 television films.
Scrooge falls at least eighteen times throughout the film. This may be a reference to Scrooge being humbled before his fellow man, the fact that he falls from high places, as well as low ones. His final fall is from the rail at the back of the carriage on Christmas day. This fall seems to hurt him least of all, since his heart and spirit have been "lightened" by the spirit's visits.
When Scrooge first goes into his counting house after signing Marley's death certificate the sign 'Scrooge and Marley' ages 7 years later. This also happens in the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart. Likewise both films begin with Marley's death and his death certificate being signed by Scrooge. More interestingly both films are 10 years apart as this version was released in 2009.
This is the first Disney adaptation of A Christmas Carol in which Scrooge doesn't go to Cratchit's house on Christmas Day after the encounter with the three spirits. Scrooge visits his nephew and has Christmas dinner with him, his wife, and their friends; followed by Scrooge giving Cratchit a raise the next day at work, keeping true to the book.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
This version is almost completely true to Charles Dickens' classic novel. Some differences: In the book,we spend a lot more time in the present, especially at the houses of his employee and nephew. The novel also shows us strife around the globe - in caves and on ships - that is relieved by Christmas joy. Also, the whole "future" scene with the horse chase and Scrooge becoming smaller is not in the novel. In fact, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in the novel is nearly immobile except for the pointing finger.
The first time that Scrooge ever calls Bob Cratchit by his first name was when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows him the Cratchit family mourning Tiny Tim's death. Though, Bob Cratchit doesn't hear him say it because Scrooge was only there as a spirit and the event was just a 'what if' scenario. Once he changes his ways and arrive back into the present day, Scrooge calls him by his first name to show his empathy towards and appreciation for him.
Just before Scrooge falls into his 'future grave' the year of his death is blocked implying Scrooge may have died in 1843 the year the film takes place and Tiny Tim may have also died that very year seeing as how both 'died' during the future scenes.