SCROOGED

(1988)
With Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum
Directed by Richard Donner
Reviewed by JB

     Dickens's A Christmas Carol may well be the most filmed story of all time.  Each decade, there are more and more straight adaptations and variations.  In 2009 alone, we had the 3D animated SCROOGE starring Jim Carey, and a Matthew McConaughey - Jennifer Garner romantic comedy THE GHOSTS OF GIRLFIRENDS PAST.  Bringing the Scrooge story to modern times is always a tricky business, but 1988's SCROOGED, starring Bill Murray, shows that it can be done well (as opposed to the above named romantic comedy!)

     Murray plays a television president bent on getting top ratings for what seems like the rackiest and most miscast live version of A Christmas Carol ever.  He has almost complete disregard for anybody's feelings except his own, going so far as firing one underling for daring to have his own opinion on something.  (When reminded by his assistant that it is Christmas Eve, Murray thanks her and has her call accounting to stop the underling's bonus).   Just before the show, he is visited by the Ghost of the former president of the station (John Forsythe), who warns him that he is on the road to ruin and will be visited by three ghosts... well, you know the rest.  

    Murray projects too much of a warm, if aloof, image, to be completely believable as a Scrooge character, but his detatched sense of humor keeps the film in high spirits most of the time.  He is aided by the comic talents of David Johansen (The Ghost of Christmas Past) and Carol Kane (The Ghost of Christmas Present) and a rich and deep cast, including (not named above) Alfre Woodard, Michael J. Pollard, John Glover and Buddy Hackett.  There are many funny lines throughout and several effectively creepy sequences, as well as a rousing, if somewhat forced, singalong conclusion as Murray leads the cast (and, presumably, the audience) through the soon-to-be-a-hit song "Put a Little Love in Your Heart".  3½ - JB


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