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If Francis Cross, a TV boss,
Were dead, no one would mourn the loss.
He’s cruel and mean, at times obscene,
Controlling every TV screen.
At Christmas time, the selfish slime
Promotes his live Scrooge on prime time.
He quickly bags the slightest nags,
Like Eliot, who’s sunk to rags.
Then Frank one night is shown a fright;
His old dead boss appears in sight.
He tells Frank he indeed will be
Soon visited by spirits three.
While Frank at first believes the worst,
His fears of spirits are dispersed.
He talks with Claire, who’s quick to care
But left him long before his scare.
Frank still freaks out when there’s no doubt;
The Ghost of Christmas Past’s about.
He smokes and drives; soon Frank arrives
In his past, watching former lives:
His own childhood misunderstood
And how his job trumped Claire for good.
When this Ghost ends, Frank tries amends
With Claire, who cares for homeless friends.
Frank’s selfishness still causes stress,
And his alarm creates a mess.
The Present’s Ghost is Frank’s next host
And loves to pummel Frank the most.
His secretary, poor but merry,
Is shown by the ghostly fairy.
Frank then sees his bro at ease
And some poor man who chose to freeze.
The future next leaves Frank most vexed;
It’s even worse than he expects.
It scares him straight; he soon can’t wait
To do good and avert this fate.
Though Eliot had just had it
And tried to shoot Frank in a fit,
Frank gladly hires the man he fired
And has him help his plan inspired.
While on the air, Frank does declare
His love for Christmas and for Claire.
He steals the show and tells folks go
Outside and smell the mistletoe.
Claire comes that night, despite stage fright,
And on TV they reunite.
The joyful throng then sings a song
In one big merry sing-along.

Scrooged is a comedic merging of Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol with the macabre humor of Beetlejuice, and Bill Murray as the Scroogish Frank Cross pours his talented unlikability into the role. Far more nasty than he was at the start of Groundhog Day, Murray succeeds in making the audience hate him just as much as many characters do, thus making his ghostly punishment and his turnaround at the end utterly satisfying. The film has plenty of humor, though it’s not nearly as quotable or laugh-out-loud funny as his earlier Ghostbusters, and there’s a healthy dose of weirdness thrown into the mix, such as Carol Kane’s bizarre yet strangely gratifying penchant for walloping Frank as the Ghost of Christmas Present. At least he deserved it since he was a self-proclaimed “schmuck.” (By the way, I take issue with that word since I had a teacher named Mrs. Schmuck and she was very nice.)

Karen Allen plays his winsome lost love, who is given more of a role than Scrooge’s Belle, and Bobcat Goldthwait goes hilariously nuts as Frank’s luckless ex-employee Eliot Loudermilk. Robert Mitchum, John Forsythe, and Alfre Woodard round out the main cast. Aside from these principal roles, the film has more random ‘80s cameos than a Muppet movie, tossing in Buddy Hackett, Jamie Farr, Lee Majors, Robert Goulet, John Houseman, and Mary Lou Retton just for the heck of it.

The somewhat dated Scrooged may lack the religious overtones of the original story and throws in some unfortunate language and sexual dialogue, but by the end, one cannot help but smile as Murray talks to the TV camera, thus breaking the fourth wall as he addresses the movie audience as well. The final rendition of “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” is downright classic and deserves a place in my End Credits Song Hall of Fame. As they say in the film, “Yule love it!”

Best line: (Frank, during the broadcast at the end) “It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we… we… we smile a little easier, we… w-w-we… we… we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 6
Originality: 8
Watchability: 7
Other (language, sexual dialogue): -3
TOTAL: 39 out of 60

Next: #224 – Remember the Titans

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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