Movie Review: Scrooged (1988)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1988 holiday movie starring Bill Murray and Karen Allen.

Synopsis: As he prepares for his live telecast of the film “Scrooge,” a television network president goes out of his way to show he is the modern-day embodiment of the fictional character. This results in him spending his Christmas Eve with the three ghosts of Christmas, something that slowly begins to change him but, at the same time, puts his career in jeopardy.

A Funny Christmas Movie

This isn’t a Christmas movie I’ll watch on an annual basis. But, it is a film I do take the time to watch on occasion because it is actually one of the most unique versions of “A Christmas Carol” I can find and manages to be entertaining every time I watch it as a result.

I’m actually not a big Bill Murray fan because I never thought of him as an actor that has much range to him. Most of his characters, at least in his earlier films, are very similar to each other. That being said, this is one of the few films where his style of comedy really does work.

The thing I like about Murray’s Frank Cross is, in many ways, he’s actually worse than Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was just a cranky miser and his lack of Christmas spirit and overall meanness was just an extension of that. Cross, in comparison, actually seems to enjoy being greedy and mean and his exploits, such as stealing a taxi from an elderly woman and accepting an award only to leave it behind, makes him easy to dislike.

At the same time, Murray manages to make him comical to the point it’s sometimes hard not to laugh even as he is being cruel. This is something I always personally liked because, in some ways, it made me feel like I was in his shoes a bit and the ghosts were talking to me too.

Of the three spirits, Kane’s Ghost of Christmas Present has to be the most memorable. This is always the most important spirit of the three both because of screen time and because this is the spirit that sets up the finale with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. And, she does it in a way that is humorous and really manages to stick with you. Even when I don’t watch this movie for a couple of years, I remember her performance in it.

The love story between Cross and Claire Phillips (Allen) does give this version of Scrooge a little extra twist because, in essence, she is almost an unofficial spirit by giving him a real-life link to his past and present and an additional prize for his redemption. It’s also a liberty you aren’t normally going to see with more traditional movies based on this story.

Final Opinion

It’s not a traditional version of “A Christmas Carol.” But, it has the same general premise and manages to be funny and memorable because of the modern-day twists that are thrown into it. Again, it’s not a movie I watch every Christmas. But, it is still a good film and I do recommend it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 01/04/2017, StevenHelmer
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