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Scrooged (1988)

Directed by Richard Donner Written by Mitch Glazer & Michael O’Donoghue

  What version have they not done I wonder, when the topic of Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” comes to mind. Most may know the original (or clearly “boring”) version of the tale, why else would it be recycled in so many other forms? Though there is never better than Vincent Price’s voice. He could probably read a grocery list and still sound as ever vivacious. I vaguely  recall the Mickey Mouse and Muppet versions, can’t forget the Flintstones one and have even seen it done in a romantic comedy form which was…interesting. But in my opinion there is no better a treat than Bill Murray in the lead with the assistance of Bobcat Goldthwait and Carol Kane in becoming an easily holiday favorite of mine through the years.

  Frank Cross (Murray) is the youngest President in IBC’s history for a reason. He knows people, or at least he thinks so. Christmas is a big time of year for a man with such power. Ad revenues go up 30% and with expected upcoming hits like Father Loves Beaver and The Night the Reindeer Died to undergo, their upcoming arrangement delivering a 40 million dollar, live event. Marketed as though their life depended on seeing it. Cross deciding to run his own version of the commercial every hour on the hour with news of it later scaring someone to death only glorifying the point trying to make with the promo. Easily stepping over anyone who dares question his authority (like most power executives) and firing board member Eliot (Goldthwait) after questioning his antics.

  Torn between which gifts to give out (towels or VHS) he puts that nonsense behind when approached by boss Preston (Robert Mitchum) who seems to know an unnecessary amount of statistics on animals watching television. Wanting the network to occasionally throw in some appeal for their feline/canine friends. One of the best things throughout the film was constant sneering/reactions from Murray in response to the copious amounts of asinine statements from those around him. Which were plentiful, ’tis the season of giving, no? Receiving the Humanitarian award being such ironic bliss and clearly where the Quote is streamed from; see above title. The turning point in his day coming when re-acquainted with old friend Lew Hayward (John Forsythe); who had been deceased a number of years. Heeding a warning to change his ways and soon to be visited by 3 ghosts that would attempt to convince him of forever changing his outlook on life.

  The first ghost that visits is that of the past (David Johansen) who swears of “Niagara Falls” at the sight of his mother. Claiming the sight of such a “thoughtful” gift being the real reason behind his tears. As well to when first meeting Claire (Karen Allen; or the one) when starting at the station. Focusing on their relationship as eventually a fly on the wall for when choosing the occupation of “Frisbee the Dog” over dinner with friends and his girl on Christmas Eve. Integrated between the visits were moments of him returning to his present life that winded down the time to the live event. The second ghost, that of present (Kane), whose spastic version of Glinda the Witch was well cast and executed. Beating what sense could into Frank, she takes him to his assistant’s dwelling to witness how her son had not spoken in 5 years after seeing his father killed and barely making ends meet. Seeing for himself how his brother wanted nothing more than to spend time with him and the ghost of Christmas Future later showing his cremation with only his brother present. Finding himself burning inside his own tomb, his shouts of despair and wanting to change are what bring him back to the present, at a most convenient time in the live special.

  Our “Scrooge” finds himself repenting for what he promises are qualities of a former man. Giving a speech that warrants a single tear as the entire cast sings out the movie with Murray speaking to the audience and quoting a movie just previously in, Little Shop of Horrors, stating “Feed me, Seymour!” Ah yes, and the little boy who was afraid to speak concludes the story with “God bless us, everyone.” Once you get over the cheesiness of it all, you realize how well brought together it is and that it ends as expected though in a much more pleasing manner. There are as well other small plot points that while weren’t discussed are best when watched in accordance. Such as a cameo from John Glover (Gremlins 2) as Brice who secretly was gunning for Frank’s job while helping out on the live special. We also follow Bobcat as he slowly becomes a mumbling naysayer who embarks on a harsh journey and all after just getting fired.

  Another thing I always liked about the feel of the movie was it seemed Burtonesque, especially the intro. The fact that Danny Elfman did the score didn’t help and not only is there a small part of the music that I swear was from Beetlejuice but with the Robert Goulet cameo also. In the beginning when Frank spends some time with his brother, the definition of their last name is written in big letters in the background. Cross/’kros/n: a thing they nail people to. Within the ins and outs of his past and present, he finds himself understandably distraught and wonders into a homeless shelter as a means to look for Claire. Though upon entering is mistaken for being homeless as he babbled to himself of lost thoughts. Then before facing the ghost of Christmas Future, mistakes the one for the live version and begins shouting and insisting on mercy from him. A mad fact being that three of Murray’s brothers can be seen throughout with other cameos that, depending on how much useless trivia you know, may or may not be recognizable. Unfortunately the humor of the film seems lost with younger audiences though is able to uphold and be just as funny 20 years later. Putting a better modern twist on the Carol then I bet I’ll see for a while with a great comedic lead that carried the film, beginning to end.