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More than Scrooged; cheated.

  • Dec 30, 2011
* out of ****

Sometimes, I'm afraid I wonder just a bit too much. When I approached "Scrooged", I wondered whether a modernized spin on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" could really be deserving of the critical beating that it got from a few notable - and even respectable - reviewers; one of which was Roger Ebert, who awarded the film with but a single star. Given how I tend to disagree on Ebert when it comes to a lot of cult flicks (or films with fan-driven successes as a whole); I walked into this one open-minded and ready for a good time. I walked out exhausted, frustrated, and nearly asleep.

While history has recorded its fair share of them; "Scrooged" is easily the worst adaptation of the Dickens story that I've seen. It was a doomed production from the start; the idea itself feels out-of-place, and it's even worse given that it has to someday become an entire screenplay; and it did. Murray - the star - is terrifically miscast as the Scrooge character; whose name has now been changed to Frank Cross. Murray knows one thing and one thing only about the persona of this famous literary icon known as Scrooge; that he was one mean son-of-a-bitch. But that's never enough, not for Murray, not for anyone.

Frank is the executive of a television channel; and he takes his job for granted. His lower employees look up to him in hopes of a raise or even a bonus of some sorts; although Frank is such a selfish guy - so engaged in creating profit from his programming - that he could really care less about how others perform financially, even when they're in the same business as him. As long as he's the employer and they are the employees; their jobs (and part of their lives) depend on him.

We see that Frank really is a sorry fellow; fancy house, nice job, big money, little heart. He spends most nights downing whisky and waiting for the holidays to be over. And think of it; by day, he's an even more despicable being than by night. We really hate this guy - as we should when it comes to Scrooge caricatures - but of course, as the story goes, we're supposed to care for him in the end. I can safely say that I never gave a damn about Frank.

Alright, so you know the story; Frank is to get a nighttime visit from a former acquaintance (in this re-telling, it is a past mentor). This same person has been dead for several years now; although Frank has been too obsessed in his work and in his money to even consider respecting the dead. He perceives his former mentor as some sort of apparition - or even a hallucination brought on by alcohol - although the random phantom doesn't seem to care much. He tells Frank that he must change his ways - and that he shall be visited by three ghosts over the course of the next few days.

The first is the ghost of Christmas past; here, he comes in the form of a whacky Taxi Cab driver (the only creative idea in the entire film). Second comes the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is the most annoying of the three; sharing with Frank a glimpse of happier, more emotionally successful Christmases celebrated by those who he has shunned for years passed and many years to come (that is, unless things change soon). Finally, there's the Ghost of Christmas Future; a grim-reaper like ghoul with a television for a face and little demons crawling all around his insides.

Since you should know this timeless tale by now, you should know that as an adaptation of the Dickens story; "Scrooged" must follow the formula until the end. When you're talking about a film adaptation set in a modern era, however, there's room for creative freedom; and the filmmakers behind this gross miscalculation of a movie don't come close to having any. The film jumps from scene-to-scene; expecting to have some emotional payoff in which we will forgive the film of all its wrongs. But alas, Murray isn't right for the Scrooge character; thus diminishing the sentimental sendoff that the story should rightfully have. People definitely see something in "Scrooged" - it has an audience and popularity amongst certain people on the holiday season on its side - but I didn't see a single goddamn thing. Is it the special effects, the cheap shots at humor, and the fact that Murray was simply PRESENT that wowed easy-going audiences worldwide? Who knows; but just like good ol' Scrooge, I'm quite apathetic to reason.

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December 30, 2011
Wait, are you saying you disliked Scrooged because Murray didn't play the character close enough to what Dickens originally wrote?
December 30, 2011
I disliked the movie for many reasons, that being just one of them. Murray only gets a single thing right in regards to the character - he's despicable and nigh impossible to like throughout the film - but he lacks the empathy of the Scrooge from Dickens' story.
More Scrooged reviews
Quick Tip by . November 25, 2009
Scotman said it all: holiday classic with cheesy ending but always fun.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Theatrical release poster Directed by Richard Donner Produced by Richard Donner
Art Linson Written by Mitch Glazer
and Michael O'Donoghue
Charles Dickens (novel) Starring Bill Murray
Karen Allen
John Forsythe
Bobcat Goldthwait
Carol Kane
Robert Mitchum
Michael J. Pollard
Alfre Woodard Music by Danny Elfman Cinematography Michael Chapman Editing by Fredric Steinkamp
William Steinkamp Studio Mirage Studios Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) November 23, 1988 Running time 101 min. Country United States Language English Budget $32 million Gross revenue $60,328,558

Scrooged is a 1988 comedy film, a modernization of Charles Dickens' novella, A Christmas Carol. The film was produced and directed by Richard Donner, and the cinematography was by Michael Chapman. The screenplay was written by Mitch Glazer and Michael O'Donoghue. The original music score was composed by Danny Elfman.

The cast includes: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Bob "Bobcat" Goldthwait, John Forsythe, Carol Kane, David Johansen, John Houseman, John Glover, and Robert Mitchum. It also features cameo appearances by Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, musicians Larry Carlton, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, and Paul Shaffer, actor/singer Robert Goulet, and actors Jamie Farr, Buddy Hackett, Lee Majors, and Pat McCormick as well as the Solid Gold Dancers. Bill Murray's real-life brothers, Brian, John, and Joel also appear in the film.

The film was marketed with references to the film Ghostbusters which had ...

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