A selfish, cynical television executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve. (from IMDB.com)
Although Bill Murray had become one of my favorite actors in the 80's due to his role as Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters, it may come as a surprise to some to hear I actually never saw Scrooged until a couple holiday seasons ago. With its PG-13 rating, and my age at its release still several years away from the appropriate target audience, it was just one that had escaped me. Since finally watching this bizarre Richard Donner-directed (Superman: The Movie, The Goonies) spin on A Christmas Carol, I found that it was a Christmas movie that definitely wasn't one I had been missing out on.
I've watched Scrooged a couple times since my first viewing, and each time I go to watch it, I hope I'll like it more than the last time. That hasn't quite happened yet, unfortunately. Again, I love Bill Murray in certain roles, but he feels miscast here as Frank Cross. Sure, he can play a jerky "Scrooge" kind of character well, but he very clearly overacts in this movie. His humor, when subtle, has always been my favorite. However, when he's painting the humor in such broad strokes as he does here, it's all over the place. It's actually kind of hard to believe that the same director who gave us Superman and The Goonies, and the same actor from movies like Ghostbusters and Lost in Translation, created this end product. Yet, while it's an odd one while you watch it, there's still enough different about this take on A Christmas Carol to make it tempting to revisit in future Christmas seasons. But Scrooged is a pretty strange mix of screwball / slapstick comedy, and borderline cynical, dark comedy. It... almost has a charm to it? But in many ways, Scrooged misses the mark in capturing an appropriate Christmas vibe. In fact, Scrooged feels more like a parody from a team sick of Christmas movies than anything else.
The story revolves around a television studio exec named Frank Cross who has clearly forgotten any fathomable meaning of Christmas. To him, his idea of success is giving his station's viewers the world's worst FOMO by making them scared to miss their Christmas programming. Forsaking the last bit of humanity he has left, he fires some of his most loyal employees on Christmas Eve and makes the remaining employees work on the holiday in order to get a live version of A Christmas Carol - complete with scantily clad dancers - on the air. As Frank tries to pull this off, he's visited by his late boss, Lew, who had died from a heart attack while on the golf course. As a womanizer and heartless fortune seeker himself, his boss wants to warn Frank of his own impending doom... just like ole Jacob Marley had done for Scrooge. So, in a "universe" where Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol exists, Frank is now really living out the story for himself. He's soon visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, then Present, and of course Future, who all try to show Frank where he'd gone wrong. These are, for certain, the zaniest versions of these characters to be put to screen, in what becomes one really bizarre update of the beloved classic.
Filling in as Frank's lost love - much like Scrooge had - is Raiders of the Lost Ark's Karen Allen, who does a nice job playing a sweet and down to Earth love interest for Murray's character. While I wouldn't have thought to pair these two up, I think they have enough chemistry to make it work. But even as Frank is at his most despicable in the "present," Claire still seems to love him, which is especially surprising. Like I said, Murray's take on the character is a tough one to like, seeming even more cynical and crass that Ebenezer did in some ways.
When Frank experiences his inevitable turnaround, given a new lease on life, and begins overflowing with love and gratitude towards others and life itself, it does warm the heart some, but something feels a bit off. Perhaps it's Murray's waaaaay over-the-top performance or the material itself, but in a way, it kind of doesn't feel genuine. It's sad, but it almost feels forced... like the true heart of the movie was everything we had seen up until Cross's transformation. It's as if the ending was tacked on... just because they had to.
The content for Scrooged is a pretty stiff PG-13. There is frequent profanity, many of it being God's name in vain, with several uses of the "S" word, "h*ll," "S.O.B," and many others. There are some suggestive remarks in the movie, as well as a scene where Claire gives Frank a Kama Sutra book and comments on all the positions he's familiar with in it. There's also some partial nudity when some scantily clad dancers are shown, with one having part of the very top of her nipples starting to show. There's also a surprising amount of violence, including the partially decomposed ghost of Frank's boss who, at one point, hangs Frank by the neck out a window, and when Frank claws at the ghost's forearm, he causes the bones and flesh to break off. There's also a moment where the back of the ghost's scaly skull is focused on, and a mouse pushes its way out, along with a golf ball. Later, a character tries to kill another character by chasing them around an office, using a shotgun to blow holes in various things around the room. And, although slapstick, the Ghost of Christmas Present gets a kick out of abusing Frank by hitting him frequently, and in various ways. And, lastly, the Ghost of Christmas Future is briefly shown under its robe to have three super creepy puppet creatures hiding behind its spine.
With the movie being 35 years old now, I'm sure there's some sentimentality to it. So if you were a fan of the movie then, you're likely still a fan now. However, Scrooged, while entertaining at times and certainly unique in its presentation, feels far too mean-spirited to really work as an uplifting Christmas movie. However, if you're a fan regardless, this brand new 4K UHD transfer is pretty impressive. The color is vibrant, the picture pretty crisp, and the details sharper than ever. If you're looking to upgrade, Paramount definitely did a nice job reviving this one.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 11/26/23)
This new release includes the remastered film in sparkling 4K Ultra HD, access to a Digital copy of the film, as well as over 50 minutes of never-before-released special features. The full list of bonus content is below:
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
|Tedashii Releases New Single, "IYKYK"
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 23:05:00 EST
|Zauntee Drops New Album, "We Already Won," Today
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 15:35:00 EST
|Hip Hop Artist Aaron Cole Releases Latest Single, "I Love It"
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 15:25:00 EST
|We Are Messengers Enlists Labelmate Blanca For New Song, "My Hope Is In You," Out Today
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 15:20:00 EST
|Curb Records Artist Steven Malcolm Braves Uncharted Waters On New Album, "BOATS"
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 15:10:00 EST
|Gileah Taylor Releases New Single, "Dream Explorer," from Velvet Blue Music
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 15:00:00 EST
|Anthony Evans Releases New Studio Album, "Revive"
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 14:55:00 EST
|No. 1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Duck Dynasty Patriarch Phil Robertson Boldly Shares I Could Be Wrong, But I Doubt It: Why Jesus Is Your Greatest Hope on Earth and in Eternity”
Wed, 21 Feb 2024 01:46:13 +0000
|God Loves the Whole World: Global Church Network Launches Synergize 2024 Conference on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14
Wed, 14 Feb 2024 19:19:54 +0000
|“1999: 25 Albums Celebrate 25 Years” by Josh Balogh
Sun, 11 Feb 2024 04:22:33 +0000