(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Scrooged (1988)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Frank Cross learns the true meaning of Christmas and about intergenerational trauma in Black America.
Why It’s on the List: Wild to think the same person who directed Superman directed this just ten years later. I was planning on saving this for later, but I think I’ll be done with the list by the time Christmas rolls around so I’m including this here with another great Bill Murray performance. While I think he always gets credit for being Bill Murray and a very enigmatic personality, it should not be forgotten just how good of an actor he is. This is a guy who has only been nominated once, but if you go through his filmography, I think you’ll find he’s has great performances in every decade. This movie works because Bill Murray is perfect for Frank Cross. The supporting player, especially Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Past, match his energy.
It’s wild to think that Karen Allen, best known for Raiders of the Lost Ark, gets to play a version of the manic pixie dream girl. I mean, she volunteers in a homeless shelter! I wish she had more to do, but she’s incredibly charming in her scenes with Murray.
When it comes to the direction, Richard Donner is about as good as one can get for darker comedies. He showed his ability with movies like Lethal Weapon, and the tone is of a similar vein. Thankfully, Mel Gibson is nowhere near this film. I love the way the various offices are designed and the way even the ghosts look. It comes off a bit Tim Burtony except I think Donner tries to say something about the greater. There have been many versions of A Christmas Carol*, an exhausting amount quite frankly, and I still think this one is the best because of how funny it is, yet it’s also able to be emotionally affecting too.
*A Muppet Christmas Carol was a contender for this list and is undoubtedly will be on my runners-up list.
*Not sure about that Frank/Claire relationship. You talking House of Cards here?
MVP and Best Performance: This is Bill Murray’s movie. He’s in nearly every scene and has to play so many beats, from the humorous to the romantic to the dramatic. This might be his finest performance and it’s weird to think this movie got mixed reviews in 1988 because I think this would have been a huge hit if this came out in the late 90s or up until now. As is, I think this has settled into the Christmas rotation nicely. The ending speech in written form probably comes as being very cheesy and goody. Within the context of the film, Murray absolutely makes it work.
Best Quote: “It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, 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. It’s a… miracle. It’s really a sort of a miracle. Because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you’re gonna burn for it, I know what I am talking about. You have to do something. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved. There are people that are having… having trouble making their miracle happen. There are people that don’t have enough to eat, or people that are cold. You can go out and say hello to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say “Here!”, you can make them a sandwich and say “Oh, by the way, here!” I… I get it now! And if you… if you give, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you! It’s not just the poor and the hungry, it’s everybody’s who’s gotta have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you! If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won’t be one of these bastards who says “Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud”, it’s NOT! It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it! You’ll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you! I believe in it now! I believe it’s going to happen to me now! I’m ready for it! And it’s great. It’s a good feeling, it’s really better than I’ve felt in a long time. I, I, I’m ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody.” – Frank Cross
Is there a sequel? No. it’s honestly crazy that no one has ever attempted a sequel to A Christmas Carol. I think it’s a terrible idea, but Hollywood is a haven for terrible ideas.