Dir: Richard Donner, 1988
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Scrooge-like tale.
Whether it’s Alistair Sim or Albert Finney, Charles Dickens’ eternal classic A Christmas Carol will always be the staple of the Yuletide holidays.
Scrooged is an updating of the oft told story, without rigid adherence to it’s source material.
Bill Murray is Frank Cross, the head of a TV network.
Cross is selfish and ignorant and does not possess an ability to love anybody.
His secretary Grace (Alfre Woodward) is overworked and underpaid with a son who has chosen to be mute.
Frank’s brother, James (John Murray, Bill’s real life younger sibling) is happily married and loves Frank, asking him to dinner every year.
Elliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwaite) was an employee at the station but fired by Frank a couple of days before Christmas.
However, Frank is visited by the deceased owner of the company, Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) who informs him that he will be visited by three ghosts to show him the error of his ways.
Anybody who’s seen one of the multitude of cinema and television adaptations of Dickens’ classic, will know exactly how it plays out (and, if you haven’t, where have you been?!).
Scrooged is a brilliant and hilarious modernisation, that succeeds where others fail.
Murray is fantastic as the Ebenezer type character, but he has a lot of competition from the supporting cast.
David Johansen (former member of the New York Dolls) as the Ghost of Christmas Past, a deceased taxi driver with a strong Bronx accent, takes to the role with gusto.
Bad teeth, elfin ears and a cigar permanently jutting from his mouth, Johansen brings humour and sentimentality to the rough and coarse spirit.
But, the highlight of the film is Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Dressed as a fairy, complete with plastic wings and wand, the spirit is sadistic and violent, taking glee from inflicting pain on Murray’s Cross.
Despite its low certificate (it was given a ‘PG’ in Britain), there are some scenes that may be a little much for younger children.
The odd scary moment and frequent use of moderate bad language, could implore parents to check it out before allowing small children to see it.
Scrooged was one of those difficult films that fell squarely between the age certification brackets. At the time of its release, there was only four cinema ratings in the UK (five on video, including the now defunct ‘Uc’). A ’15’ certificate was too high for what was, essentially, a family film. This only left the lower option of ‘PG’, as the ideal rating, ’12’, wasn’t introduced until the following year.
Aware that it would be a shame to make cuts, the censors opted for the lower certificate.
A wise decision at the time, the film has, since, been re-rated for the Blu-Ray and placed at the appropriate rating of ’12’.
A joyous, uplifting and splendidly funny movie, that will warm your heart and fill you with festive cheer.