11 December 2007

Bill Murray is Totally Scrooged!

Scrooged (1988) staring Bill Murray: Frank Cross runs a US TV station which is planning a live adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Frank's childhood wasn't a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn't really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Frank realizes he must change. OK so that's the IMDB summary. Frank is President of IBC and he is about to run a live Christmas day special of The Christmas carol with Buddy Hackett as Scrooge and Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim. She not only walks but she does a double somersault! So his show is terrible and his promo ad for the show is even worse with the intent being to scare the audience into watching. It actually scares one viewer to death. He also fires the one person who questions the ad (Bobcat Goldthwait who later gets drunk, buys a gun and comes back to kill Frank). Frank's secretary has a son who is our Tiny Tim. He hasnt spoken since his father died. They have no money with which to seek decent medical care. Frank doesn't know but probably wouldn't care. He even cuts his secretary's bonus that year. So he obviously has no Christmas Spirit. In come the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. We discover that as a child Frank got veal for Christmas and sat in front of the TV non-stop. We also learn that he is madly in love with Claire Phillips (Karen Allen who played Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark). Frank tells her in their past "I never liked a girl enough to give her 12 sharp knives. But Frank blows it because he chose his career as Frisbee the Dog over being with her on Christmas Eve. This decisioin is what leads to his ascension at IBC television. We learn in the future that Claire has become mean and bitter because of comments he makes to her about saving herself and his secretary's son is in a padded room. Of course he changes his ways. He interupts the live show and goes on live TV and talks about the true spirit of Christmas. Sort of.

OK now it is a sad reflection on the state of movie adaptations for A Christmas Carol that this is the 2nd best version. Even sadder that the best version involves a frog. Anyway, I watched this movie a year ago and I remembered really enjoying it. I did enjoy it but not like I thought I would. So let's start with my criticisms. This movie feels way too 80s. Not in a good way. There are lots of good 80s movies. But this one feels like I should see Gina Davis pop up at any moment. Does that make sense? I hope so. Also, the change is too sudden. He is still pretty hard hearted up until the Ghost of Christmas Future. And then the change seems hokey. I'm afraid that this part of the movie requires an actor that can sell drama. Bill can't. While yelling that he can change he comes across like Bob Wiley insisting that he will go away. It works in What About Bob but not here. I also don't like that our Tiny Tim ends up in a padded room. How does that happen? Because he can't talk? Yeah OK. And then in the end he talks saying "God bless us, everyone." OK that had to happen but it still was way cheesy. Lastly, when after the visit from the last ghost he changes his way and he interrupts the live program and goes on his ramble...OK so it's supposed to be spur of the moment train-of-thought but it gets to the point where I am going crazy cause he's not getting to the point. But you get the payoff when Claire shows up and they reunite on stage.

Which brings us to the things I liked. Number one is Marion. I know her name is Claire but she'll always be Marion from Raider of the Lost Ark to me. So I'm going to call her Marion. Anyway, every time she smiles it steals the scene. She is the ultimate girl next door who you could have had a wonderful life with if you hadn't ignored her for the prom queens sort of thing. So her character is great. The best part of the movie for me is when Frank is doing his live TV thing and he gets a kiss from a tv dancer and says that it's very good but not great. There has only ever been one great. It cuts to Marion's homeless shelter where she works and Frank says her name on TV. Everyone at the shelter goes crazy. That makes me smile lots. So Marion is wonderful. The fact that she still loves Frank is unbelievable.
I also really dug the Ghost of Christmas Present as played by Carol Kane. Can't help but love her. Though her continual beating of Frank tends to get old. I also loved the score. Danny Elfman which surprised me. But since I liked the score it shouldn't.

Anyway, good movie but not great. Bill Murray is always a pleasure but this is not one of my favorite Bill Murray films. Again it's a decent Christmas movie but not one of my favorites. That's OK cause I still have plenty of time to watch White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life and Edward Scissorhands.

Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope this is a great one for everyone! On to January. The category of the month is one that is near and dear to me. For January, please submit to me your favorite Tim Burton film. I am putting forth the best Comic Book movie of all time, Batman (1989).


Swint said...

Well, I have 3 for January, but the first is definitely my first choice, but I would be happy with all three:

1. Big Fish
2. Sleepyhollow
3. Beetlejuice

Monique said...

Elf is better. . . I would love to have some classics in the running for next month. . . due to the 80's choice this month I think we need the GOOD 80's flicks.

1. Princess Bride
2. Goonies
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off


J.R. said...

The theme for next month is Tim Burton Films. Fortunately he did plenty of good 80s films. I think 80s movies maybe put into some more narrow sub genres will make for some great themes for future months.

joN. said...

maria will probably mention the part of scrooged that we rewound three times. i just want to comment that i'm grateful i had an excuse to watch a christmas movie that i'd never seen before. it was a bit uneven, but bill murray saves it in several places even though he's not as strong as he is in other places (like maybe 'what about bob?') i actually liked raiders of the lost ark girl a whole lot. i really liked how they used her character in the update to show the the scrooge effect on good people we love down the road. i also loved david johansen as the ghost of christmas past. if anybody hasn't seen 'new york doll,' GO NETFLIX IT RIGHT NOW. anyway, happy christmas.

joN. said...

you know, looking at tim burton's filmography on imdb, i'm sort of disappointed. he actually doesn't have nearly as many classics as i remember. you realize he didn't even actually direct 'the nightmare before christmas?' oh well, that'd be a lousy january movie anyway. i'd like to suggest the wonderful michelle pfieffer/christopher walken romantic comedy 'batman returns.' also, 'pee wee's big adventure' since it has the SCARIEST moment ever put to film. i noticed you said tim burton films, not necessarily films directed by tim burton. in that case i'd also like to nominate TRON. seriously. hard.

oh, and btw, saw i am legend this weekend. we thought it was actually pretty good.

Maria said...

The part in the movie that had me crying and demanding that Jon rewind was when he tripped/slipped on his way out of the fancy restaraunt. I love it when people fall.....