Xmas: 'Scrooged' (1988) Dir. Richard Donner
It's a new, darker twist on a very familiar Christmas classic thanks to the wild and wacky imagination and comedy from Bill Murrary; a real 20th century Scrooge...
Cynical television executive Frank Cross (Murray) is cruel-hearted, selfish and down-right rude to his family and colleagues, and even his ex-love Claire (Allen). Frank spoils Christmas for everyone, including secretary Grace (Woodard) and producer Elliot (Goldthwait) as his TV network prepare for the Christmas Eve live production of 'Scrooge'.
Cross is visited by the decaying corpse of his former boss Lew Hayward (Forsythe) who warns Frank to change his ways unless he wants to be hated, lonely and face an early grave. With 3 ghosts due to visit him, Cross shakes off the meeting as a drunken dream.
At midnight, Frank encounters his first ghost, Christmas Past (Johansen), who starts a nightmarish journey forcing Frank to rebuild bridges to save his spirit in time for Christmas before he ruins it for everyone...
Another welcome spin on a Christmas classic, this time featuring the dead-pan, tiresome and insulting genius that is Bill Murray as our new 'Scrooge', Frank Cross. Murray maintains a straight-face as he bounces from sequence to sequence in a mad-cap, brutal and crude interpretation that is a perfect alternate festive film for the more mature audiences out there.
While not full of bad language and sex/violence, this does deal with topics like alcoholism, suicide, homelessness and other festive fun! Murray steals the show as no matter what surreal or comical situation he is placed in, be it facing off against a violent Christmas ghost, dressing up in a dog suit or giving a heartfelt monologue to the audience, he delivers it all with a straight-face; enjoying the moments he can be a bastard to children and the elderly, and revelling in the moments he can be likable and loving, which he does very well.
With a good supporting cast including the delight fully sweet Karen Allen, Lee Majors in an action-packed cameo and Carol Kane as an abusive ghost, coupled with a haunting Danny Elfman score, the gags are plenty, but played more for black comedy rather than slapstick over the 90mins runtime.
Definitely a festive classic for the ages, showing the funnier, darker side to Christmas for those who are fed up of the usual festive schmaltz.
'Scrooged' is a Mirage Productions production