Richard Donner’s Scrooged is a “comedic” retelling of Charles Dickens’ 19th century novella, A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, an executive at a New York television station. During a rehearsal and live taping of A Christmas Carol, Frank is visited by his old, dead mentor, Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), who tells Frank he must change his cranky ways (There is a gag where the crew cannot get little antlers to stick to little live mice – Frank’s solution? Staples.) and that he will be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (an uncredited Robert Hammond) over the next few hours of Christmas Eve.
Where Scrooged falters is in its strange desire to cram the entire story into the timeframe of a rehearsal and live filming of A Christmas Carol, which, at most, we can assume does not go past eight hours. Murray’s approach to his character is completely one note. He basically gives his “dogs and cats living together” speech from Ghostbusters for 85 out of the 97 minutes.
It is also a 97-minute film that is a half-hour too short. At least, one might assume that the comedy is somewhere in that missing half hour. Murray is his own worst enemy in the film, and the bonus features show a Bill Murray who is completely stressed out and obviously much too aware that the movie hinges on his performance. Much of the movie depends on the comedic talents of Forsythe, Johansen, and Kane. There are also lots of fun cameos from the likes of Buddy Hackett, Paul Schaffer, the Solid Gold Dancers, and Lee Majors.
- Commentary by Richard Donner
- A Christmas to Remember
- Updating Ebenezer
- Bringing the Ghosts to Life
- The Look of Scrooged
- On the Set with Bill Murray
- ShoWest Clips with Bill Murray
For ’80s nostalgia, Scrooged has its interesting moments. For comedy, look somewhere else.