Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 18

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Here comes day eighteen.

Scrooged (1988)

           This pick marks the second one that is based on A Christmas Carol. I'm not sure when I originally saw this movie, though I do remember being slightly scared of its ads. What can I say, I was an easily frightened kid. Further there was something weird about seeing Bill Murray, who I knew primarily as Peter Venkman, harassed by ghosts. In any case, I did eventually see it and it was enjoyable. It isn't a feature that I watch every holiday season, but I'm not fully sure why that is. I enjoy it every time that I do. Maybe I'll have to change my viewing habits regarding this movie.


           Of the three features on this list that are based on A Christmas Carol, Scrooged is the one that does the most to mix things up. Primarily, it is simply a modern (a least 1988 modern) retelling of the classic tale. As such we will look at it less in depth than some other features; the same way I treated Mickey's Christmas Carol. We are introduced to Frank Cross, a young, hot shot television executive who is overseeing the production of a live broadcast version of A Christmas Carol set to air on Christmas Eve. His promo for the special doesn't embrace the spirit of the story but instead is provocative simply to get eyes on the product. When questioned about its tone by a subordinate named Eliot Loudermilk, Frank fires him. Through this and his giving out of network branded towels for Christmas, it is made clear that he is not a very pleasant person.

A live special with stunt casting.  Make it a musical and it could air next year.

           What follows is a fairly by the numbers retelling. Frank is visited first by the ghost of his former mentor and then in sequence by each of the Ghosts of Christmas. Where it differs from the traditional tale is the time scale in with the visits occur and the way each of the ghosts are portrayed. In terms of when the visits happen, the ghost of his mentor visits the night of the 23rd of December and the other ghost arrive throughout the afternoon of the 24th. This has the effect of making those around him begin to question his sanity. The Ghost of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Christmas Present are portrayed in a more comedic fashion than normal but still manage to get the weight of the story across. The Ghost of Christmas Future is as terrifying as it should be.

They definitely got the Ghost of Christmas Future right.

           In the end, Frank rehires and promotes Eliot, who was in the process of trying to kill Frank over his firing before the arrival of the last ghost intervened. With Elliot's help Frank then interrupts the live broadcast to spread his newly minted appreciation for the holiday and implore people to keep the spirit with them all year long. Frank's assistant's son (the film's stand-in for Tiny Tim) says his first words since witnessing his father's murder. And everyone joins in song as the credits roll.

Final Thoughts

           Scrooged is a retelling of A Christmas Carol and that is not a bad thing. Chances are you already know all the story beats long before you start watching. That is simply a fact of adapting one of the most popular holiday stories of all time. By no means does this serve as a reason to pass it by. First, there is something fun about it being a version of A Christmas Carol that takes place in a world where that story exists. It gives Bill Murray's Frank Cross a really good reason to doubt if he is truly encountering ghosts or just cracking under the stress of making the television special. Second the more irreverent takes on most of the ghosts are also very fun to watch. Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present stands out particularly in this regard. Finally, and probably the best reason to watch this feature is simply Bill Murray.

This guy makes everything he touches better.

          People who know me frequently accuse me of having a man crush on him and that is not an accusation that I can fully refute. But, he is hilarious in this in the same way that he is hilarious in all of his comedic roles. I guess, from a story stand point, this could be something of a problem. Even at the points when his character is supposed to be at his absolute worst, you can't help but be amused by Murray. But, then again, you wouldn't really want Bill Murray to not be Bill Murray so it is fine. Overall, a fun Christmas movie that balances a typical heartwarming tale with a sarcastic eighties comedy edge. Its likely to be enjoyed by the whole family, even moody teens or people who act like moody teens. See you back here in about 24 hours or so.

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