Cold-hearted TV exec Bill Murray is about to discover the true meaning of Christmas — the hard way. Director Richard Donner’s wild, woolly spin on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol sees Murray visited by three high-spirited spirits.

Year: 1988
Certificate: PG
Director: Richard Donner

Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Nicholas Phillips, Michael J. Pollard, Alfre Woodard

Information Page:

Well it’s that time of year again, Christmas! And no doubt the fact that you’ve stumbled across my film review today means that you’re looking for a nice feel good Christmas film for the whole family to watch – well if that’s the case then this is not he film for you however if you’re looking for a comedy to watch with your older children then this might be more suitable. As this is an adaptation of such a well known story it is hard not to do spoilers, so I apologise if you don’t yet know the classic tale.

“Scrooged” is a modern (well 1988 modern) and unusual take on Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol”. The main protagonist Frank Cross (Murray) is a TV executive who is more concerned with making unmissable TV programmes and making money than the feelings and well being of those around him. In fact in his search to get his network (IBC) to the top of the Christmas rating list he schedules a live broadcast adaption of  ‘A Christmas Carol’, showing little regard for staff who would like to spend Christmas at home with their families.

The film opens a couple of days before Christmas, with Frank in a meeting with staff members, looking over the trailers for the Christmas TV schedule; make sure you pay attention to the trailers as they are quite funny, even if the first one is a bit shocking. Of course in true Scrooge style he isn’t happy and throws out the trailer stunning the staff when he substitutes his own. This is an action-packed montage of clips of freeway killers, airplane terrorists and A-bomb detonations. Says one aide, “It looks like ‘The Manson Family Christmas Special.'” Frank dismisses the man on the spot. It is in these opening few minutes we are introduced to Frank’s personality, which is cold-hearted and only happy when making others miserable.

The whole film is played out over a few days with a lot of the background story surrounding the rehearsals for the live show, it is during production that Frank tells a stage hand to staple antlers to a mouse’s head to make it look like a reindeer. The snippets from IBC’s big Christmas show, have quite a large percentage of the films comedic moments with a lot of leggy, scantily clad showgirls and a boozy actor (Buddy Hackett) playing a conventional Scrooge. The actor has trouble with his lines. Standing in the middle of a set representing a Christmas card’s vision of 19th-century London, this Scrooge barks out, “Why must I be molested by sea urchins!” The show-within-the-show promises a lot, but it is never allowed to stand out too much on its own, and is mostly background fun.

When the first ghost visits it is Frank’s predecessor at the network who died seven years before on the golf course, there are a few funny moments during this encounter, however the ghost is also quite gruesome with rotting flesh and exposed bones. There are also a few jump scares caused by the ghosts actions, this is definitely not a family film. The story then follows a very familiar yet modern pattern Frank is visited by 3 further ghosts who hope to see him mend his ways: the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Christmas past shows us why he doesn’t like Christmas and the memories that resurface each year, as well as why and how he became a TV executive. Christmas present shows us that he doesn’t really know his friends or family very well at all and that they are just used to having fun at Christmas without him, while Christmas future shows us a rather grisly end to Frank Cross.

Of course we know that Frank will mend his ways and it is now that the film becomes rather heartwarming, kind of like the soft centre in a hard sweet, we see a totally new side to Frank that most of his friends and family have rarely seen before, but when Frank talks to the camera to the viewers of the live show it feels like Bill Murray is talking directly to us telling us the true message of Christmas. Also make sure you stay tuned during the credits, if you think that Marvel Cinematic Universe invented the during, mid and after credit scenes – think again because the fun doesn’t stop at the end of the film.

In conclusion for a film which is nearly 30 years old, it really has stood the test of time think  ‘A Christmas Carol’ meets ‘1984 Ghostbusters’. However please do bear in mind that the BBFC rated this film a PG and there are a few parts that will scare younger audiences, in America it was rated a PG13 which I would say is probably about a good age for younger viewers.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About Tammy

A parent blogger and mom to 3 adorable children, who likes watching documentaries and dramas.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Leave a Reply