Reviewing my own collection: Holiday Edition SCROOGED


In my family (and by family I mean my wife and I), Christmas is about enduring the 50 below wind chill on the Canadian border and watching Richard Donner’s retelling of “A Christmas Carol” about a mouse stapling television exec Francis X.Cross as he tries to put on his own 40 million dollar live version of the Dickens classic, all while being visited by four abusive ghosts. And besides copious amounts of ham at my in-laws, it’s my favorite part of Xmas.

First of all, it’s the only Christmas movie with Bill Murray. Now this would usually go without saying, but this is smartass, fuck you Bill Murray at his comedy peak. Just look at his resume between Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day and you’ll see one of the greatest comedic hot streaks ever. Any version of a Christmas Carol needs a Scrooge who is an asshole you can root for, which has been Bill Murray all along.

If ninety percent of directing is casting then Donner must have been up for an Oscar that year. The two main ghosts: Christmas Past and Christmas Present are played with a sadist’s delight by former man in drag David Johansson (or as I knew him back then Buster Poindexter) and go-to crazy pixie Carol Kane. Add in Bobcat Goldwaithe showing his range as Bob Cratchett with a shotgun and the asshole that plays Bryce Cummings channeling his best Richard Atherton as Bill Murray’s vegetarian arch nemesis and the you’ve already built a strong foundation to lay the funny on down.

Even the super cute world saver Karen Allen (am I the only one who keeps thinking she’s Margo Kidder?) plays a surprisingly dimensional love of Frank Cross’s life. I’m surprised, after all these years, that I still buy that relationship between the selfless Claire and the ruthless “Lumpy.”carol kane pixie

But great comic acting is not how a great Christmas movie is made. If you look at the greats like A Christmas Story, It’s A Wonderful Life, you need two main components. Rewatchability. You need to be able to see this movie at least once of year for the rest of your life. Then there is the super duper feel so good you could kiss somebody ending.

The Scrooged watchability factor hovers around a 12 and I have been since I saw it in the theater with my Dad when I was 11 and he spent the rest of the day giving me and my brother stomach zerberts. For the eleven year old in me there’s plenty of crotch kicks and waiters on fire to keep me laughing from the gut. Older me keeps noticing the little things year after year. Hey, is that Miles Davis in the street band. Or the “Cross (n): A thing you nail people to” wallpapered behind his little used exercise equipment. Let’s play how many Murray brothers can you find? But what makes something rewatchable are the scenes.

annramseyThe whole movie opens on a series of Christmas special parodies like “The Day the Reindeer Died.” and Cross’s own “Scrooge” promo that features highway killers, drugs and acid rain. Like the Running Man, which came out around the same time, it eerily predicts the shock culture that TV would soon become. The greatest scene has Bill Murray stumbling into Karen Allen’s homeless shelter and, mistaken for a homeless person, sits with Anne Ramsey and her gang of crazies (I wish she were still alive) who then mistakes him for Richard Burton.

Christmas spirit in its purest form is really a minor form of insanity. Or at least Zoloft. Why else would people suddenly hold doors for people they don’t know, give that extra dollar to the homeless person, find joy from giving people thoughtful presents or come one fiery look from my wife from starting a Christmas sing along on a four hour delayed plane last week? What really makes Scrooged so unforgettable is that Christmas spirit is portrayed as the beautiful mental breakdown that it is. alive

When Bill Murray emerges from the elevator ALIVE and kissing Bobcat full on the lips only to hijack his own studio broadcast just to tell everyone about finding their miracle on Christmas Eve, it’s rings so true that you do wish that Jesus’s arbitrary birthday was every week. By the time little Calvin whispers “God bless us everyone,” I’m not sure if Bill Murray was really crying but I know after the 20th viewing I’m still balling and ready to give a homeless man a blanket. Unfortunately for the homeless it was time for bed and I needed it.

Before: A Rereviewed: A+

Put a little love in your heart and let’s petition for a Blu Ray version.



One Response to “Reviewing my own collection: Holiday Edition SCROOGED”

  1. andothersuchthings Says:

    I love this movie. Its a Cornwall family Christmas tradition as well (– always paired with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.) And Karen Allen… swoon. I love when he wins that award about giving: ” Sometimes I have to stop myself from giving too much…”

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