Movie Ratings, Family Movie Reviews & More!

Still shot from the movie: Scrooged.

Scrooged

Frank Cross (Bill Murray), president of the IBC Television Network, is responsible for his station's upcoming, live production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Crude, crass and anything but compassionate, the executive needs to learn a thing or two about the holiday season -- and three ghosts are waiting in the wings to teach him that lesson.

Overall Grade: C-
Violence: C-
Sexual Content: C-
Language: C
Drugs/Alcohol: C-
Release Date: 25 Nov 1988
Run Time: 101
MPAA Rating: PG-13

0

In-Depth Review

"What were you thinking people?" is the general reaction of Frank Cross (Bill Murray), president of the IBC Television Network, after seeing his staff 's promotional ideas for the company's upcoming Christmas programs. He is particularly unimpressed by the rather dry commercial they have created for a production of A Christmas Carol. To help his underlings catch his vision, Frank edits together a collection of violent images intended to scare viewers into watching their live version of Charles Dickens' classic tale.

The black-hearted boss shows his true colors in other ways too. He underpays and overworks his secretary (Alfre Woodard), brushes off the kindness of his brother (John Murray), ignores the pleas of the homeless, and fires one of his employees (Bob Goldthwait) on Christmas Eve.

But someone out there doesn't want his lost soul to burn eternally, so the ghost of his deceased mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) drops by his office for a drink. Having consumed a few too many himself, Frank is at first convinced the apparition is an alcoholic hallucination. However, empting all the bullets from his revolver into the decaying corpse doesn't stop it from walking, talking and promising the egocentric executive he will be haunted by three more spirits.

Bringing the English author's story to never-intended ghoulish life, the film-makers embody the Ghost of Christmas Past as a cigar-smoking taxi driver (played by David Johansen) who gets his jollies playing peeping-tom on Frank's ex-girlfriend (Karen Allen) while she takes a bath (no explicated nudity is shown). The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) is a sweet talking fairy that balances her sugar with a strong dose of abusive spice. To ensure Frank gets her message, she repeatedly hits him with it - she also jabs, punches and kicks him in the crotch. And a peek inside the cloak of the terrifying specter of the Christmas Future (Chaz Connor) reveals gruesome creatures trapped within his skeletal ribcage.

Should that not be enough to convince you this is not a movie suitable for young audiences, perhaps a couple of other inclusions might. First is the crass comedy, which is derived mostly from sexual innuendo, rude comments, and satirical references to late 1980's pop culture and the broadcast industry. Second are the violent depictions, like a man on fire and a disgruntled worker who tries to work out his feelings of injustice with a shotgun. Last but not least, the script is decorated with enough mild to moderate profanities to make the average Christmas tree blush.

Eking all of it's redeeming features out of the last few minutes of film, the character of Frank spouts platitudes about the joy and warmth to be found in sharing the spirit of the season -- while he has a partner-in-crime hold the control room personnel at gunpoint so his compassionate message of love can be broadcast over the airwaves.

With all the wonderful adaptations that have been made from Dickens' famous novel, all I can ask is: "People, what were you thinking?"

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

In perhaps the only family aspects of this film, actor Bill Murray included all of his brothers in the cast of this movie. The most notable of these appearances is John Murray who plays James, the on screen brother to Bill’s character.

Do you feel there is any significance to the choice of the main character’s religious name? Frances Xavier is the name of a Catholic saint and Cross has reference to Jesus Christ. (In one of the scenes shot in Franks office, the definition of the word “cross” is posted on a window. It reads: “Something one is nailed to.”)

Video alternatives

In 1951 Alastair Sim became the definitive Scrooge in the black and white film version of A Christmas Carol. Puppets gave the tale a new face in The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Home Video Notes

Scrooged is releasing to Home Video (Blu-ray) in a 25th Anniversary Edition on November 5, 2013.

Join the Conversation

About the Reviewer: Donna Gustafson

Harry Potter Advance Tickets

© One Voice Communications Ltd. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | FAQ | Contact Us | Syndicated Newspaper Column