Scrooge 16: Scrooged

Scrooged_film_posterI always say with comedies you either think something is funny and laugh or you don’t.  Comedy is so subjective and I’ve had too many experiences to count where I thought something was hilarious and shown it to a friend and get only an awkward courtesy laugh from them in response. You’d think what is humorous would be more universal but I have found that to be almost never the case.

So here we have the most comedic take on Christmas Carol, the anti-Carol, you might say- 1988’s Scrooged staring Bill Murray.   I think it is a very funny movie.  It lags in a few spots but it keeps me laughing consistently for a hearty recommendation. If you don’t find it funny there isn’t much else to recommend about the film.

Trailer:

Cast:

This movie has some of the most hilarious cameos of any movie I’ve seen.  Some of the best laughs are people not on the official cast list.

Bill Murray as Francis Xavier “Frank” Cross
Karen Allen as Claire Phillips
John Forsythe as Lew Hayward
John Glover as Brice Cummings
Bobcat Goldthwait as Eliot Loudermilk
David Johansen as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present
Robert Mitchum as Preston Rhinelander
Nicholas Phillips as Calvin Cooley
Michael J. Pollard as Herman
Alfre Woodard as Grace Cooley
Mabel King as Gramma
John Murray as James Cross
Wendie Malick as Wendie Cross
Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Cross, Frank and James’s father
Joel Murray as Guest

Scrooge:  Bill Murray plays Scrooge who goes by the name of Frank Cross in this and he is great as always.  He pulls off the grumpy corporate executive probably better than the more tender scenes but his deadpan delivery is very funny.

Differences- This is definitely a lose adaptation designed to get laughs but there is 3 spirits, a Marley figure, a grumpy Scrooge character and a beleaguered assistant, so some elements remain in the story.

scrooged2

John Forsythe is actually pretty creepy as Lew Hayward with some decent special effects.  They use the elevator very cleverly in the movie and Murray is filming a telecast of Christmas Carol while his own version is occurring, which brought some good laughs.  My personal favorite scene is when the censor objects to a wardrobe in the telecast. Then there is a running gag where she gets hit in the head by various items and as someone who finds Hollywood’s attempt to censor itself with the MPAA to be a total joke I found it very funny.

Scrooged-censorChristmas Past is a cab driver played by David Johansen and he is nuts but in a humorous way.

scrooged pastChristmas Present is my favorite played by Carol Kane and she finds ways of injuring Scrooge both on purpose and by accident.  Haven’t we all wanted to slap Scrooge in the face in one version or another? And it’s always funny when someone who sounds sweet and looks cute actually has a temper.  She talks all sweet and then slaps him as hard as she can and that’s just funny.

carol kane scroogedKaren Allen from Raiders of the Lost Arc plays the Belle character who wants to serve others while Frank only thinks of himself.  They had good chemistry together and I bought them as a couple.

karen allen scroogedChristmas Future isn’t an actor but a prop from the production going on that ends up in the elevator.  He has Ignorance and Want inside his belly in a creative way.

scrooged futureIn this version Fred is actually Frank’s Brother John and Alfre Woodard (who I always like) is the Cratchit character named Grace Cooley.  She has a son who is a mute and refuses to talk to anyone.

But my favorite performance is Bobcat Goldthwait as Eliot Loudermilk.  He is fired by Frank after offering some timid criticism of his rather grisly Scrooge promo.  He comes back to get vengeance on Frank and it is hilarious. It feels like a rif on Die Hard but that came out the same year so I guess it is just making fun of all the over-the-top action movies of the 80s.

scrooged-1988-bobcat-goldthwait

Strengths- As I said the interweaving stories of the production and Frank’s visitations are very clever. Most of the gags made me laugh so I guess that means it’s a successful comedy!

Eliot Loudermilk, Carol Kane, Alfre Woodard, David Johansen and John Forsythe are all great fun.

Scrooged-bill-murray-768549_780_435

Murray is a funny as always and it’s all directed competently by Richard Donner of Superman fame.

Weakness- I guess a weakness is it doesn’t really give much to enjoy if you don’t find it funny but not all movies can be everything.  It’s definitely non-traditional and a few of the jokes are more designed for an 80s audience and are perhaps a bit dated.

Other than that I really enjoyed it.  So bah humbug and have some good laughs!

22 thoughts on “Scrooge 16: Scrooged

  1. Put me in the “I didn’t find it funny” category…perhaps I would today, I was quite young when I watched it. But then…I don’t think that Bill Murray is funny in general. I never understood the rapid love for the Ghostbusters either, there is nothing funny about this movie.

    But what I remember the most is the whole TV production on Christmas, which always made me wonder why the hell would anyone do that in the first place. Not because of sentiments, but those people who actually do watch TV at Christmas instead of celebrating with someone, would they really want to see that? So you have to pay all those people extra for showing up on Christmas, for a possible TV success? Somehow I never could wrap my mind around the concept (especially since I myself dislike those life filmed adaptations…make it a stage play or a proper movie, but not this inbetween thing.

    Yeah, I know, an odd thing to be bothered by.

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    1. That didn’t bother me a bit. I mean it’s a station doing The Night the Reindeer Died so not making the most logical decisions to begin with. I thought it was funny having both stories at the same time going and gave for some cheeky moments.

      Wow dont find Ghostbusters or Bill Murray funny? That’s crazy to me but just goes to show how subjective humor is. It cracked me up. Even his bad movies I think he’s always good.

      So far you’ve only liked 2 out of 16 versions I’ve reviewed. I’m sorry you watched so many versions you disliked. That must be unpleasant at Christmas.

      I’d recommend watching this as an adult because things like the censor lady go over a child’s head. You didnt think Carol Kane was funny? That was hilarious.

      Oh well! To each their own. I laughed

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      1. I don’t dislike the versions I criticise (at least not all of them)…I just think that my two favs are the superior adaptations. There is a big difference between not loving something and disliking something. I certainly got enjoyment out of some of them.

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      2. Oh good. Just seems negative sometimes. I appreciate any comments but it would be nice to hear what does work for you a little more. But whatever works for you. Always welcome feedback and I hope you enjoy reading the blog.

        On this one it made me laugh. It didnt make you laugh and there you go. That’s ok. I appreciate your sharing that response

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      3. You really should watch it as an adult. It’s an adult movie for sure. What Christmas comedies do you like? Elf? Christmas Story? National Lampoons?

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      4. Loriot: Weihnachten bei Hoppenstads (okay, it’s not a comedy but a sketch by what I consider Germany’s best comedian of all time.)
        I am not really into comedies…I think the only Christmas comedy I like is Home Alone, but that is mostly for the more thoughtful parts in the movie.

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      5. I only like them if they have a good mix of humour and actual storytelling. For example Home Alone…I really don’t laugh that hard about it. But I like the story of a child who develops independence

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      6. Love Home Alone. It’s the first movie I remember seeing in the theater and dying of laughter and it holds up quite well.

        For me it just depends. I like satire, slapstick, wit, any variety. For a movie with a thin story to work there has to be a lot of jokes like Airplane or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They are hilarious.

        Bringing up Baby is a favorite of mine which is more comedic dialogue. What’s Up Doc is a favorite that is more screwball done well. Annie Hall is dialogue and satire.

        So just depends for me but I find I turn to comedies more than drama because I like the lightness. They are relaxing for me. Nora Efron is my particular favorite. You might say she’s my literary muse.

        Anyway to each their own.

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      7. I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and it was funny enough (though I really couldn’t laugh about someone loosing both arms and both legs), but the one I would rewatch is “Life of Brian” because it is not just a comedy, but also an interesting commentary on religion and how they come to be.

        I usually go for something between comedy and drama…stuff which makes me smile, but tells me, above all, a good story.

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      8. Yeah Life of Brain is too much sacrilege for my taste. Ah the Black Knight. That scene is so over-the-top it cracks me up. And then when he keeps going and taunting them and threatening. Ha. Oh well.

        For me it just depends but I see your perspective. The films with thin story are harder to pull off because the jokes must be plentiful and delivered well. But it’s just movies so like whatever makes you happy and provides you with entertainment.

        There certainly are comedic classics I don’t get like Blazing Saddles. So dumb, but I know it makes others laugh so it all just depends.

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    2. And I do not share your loathing of live productions on tv. They are silly but there’s a charm to them I enjoy. I think it is fun but again cant please everyone

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