Of the countless movie adaptions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Scrooged is the top rated adaption on our list, coming in at number 10. The movie contains a funny list of stars including Bill Murray, Karen Allen (The Sandlot), and Bobcat Goldthwait (One Crazy Summer).
Released in November of 1988, it stars Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a cynical television programming executive who has only found his wealth by becoming cold-hearted and cruel. Cross’ concentration on his career led to the loss of his true love, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen) and the alienation of his brother, James (John Murray). On Christmas Eve, Cross premieres a disturbing TV commercial to his employees which advertises a gruesome Christmas special, “The Night The Reindeer Died,” starring Lee Majors. Many of the employees don’t say anything to Cross as they are scared to anger him, but yes-man Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) speaks out against it calling it, “..the Manson family Christmas special!” Frank then fires Loudermilk. And catches his assistant, Grace Cooley’s (Alfre Woodward) mute son Calvin hanging around the studio set for the A Christmas Carol Live special that he is airing.
Later on in the movie, Cross is visited by the decomposing corpse of his old mentor Lew Hayward, who tells him the error of his ways, and the impending visitation of three ghosts. Cross runs out of his office to make a dinner thinking of the experience as a hallucination. During the dinner with his boss and his boss’ assistant, Cross begins to see many unusual things, he throws water onto a man he believes is burning, he sees eyeballs in his water, and many other uncanny things. Cross stumbles out of the restaurant and gets into a cab, the cab driver being the first ghost and taking him back to his childhood of 1955, then his first TV station job, then to 1971 where he chose working with TV over the love of his life. The ghost of Christmas Present then shows how Cooley’s family lives in poverty, and how his brother misses him. The ghost also has a delight in hitting Cross. The ghost of Christmas Future then takes Cross and shows him how Claire will become cold and uncaring and how Calvin will end up in a mental hospital.
The movie, unlike other adaptions, does a great job of keeping the material new and unique while still using Dickens’ book as a guideline. The movie falls at the inner circle of the top ten for many reasons. First, throughout the movie there are so many jokes that go by so quick you’ll have to rewind to understand. One example is when Cross has the definition of “Cross” as the wallpaper in his office, stating “Cross; A thing people are nailed to.” It’s that kind of humor that will keep you laughing into the next scene. The only reason Scrooged is not higher up in the top ten is because the idea of A Christmas Carol has been overdone to death by TV and movie adaptions. Bill Murray does help the movie seeing as he improvised some of his lines and helped many of his friends get parts in the movie, including all of his brothers! Scrooged is a holiday classic that deserves the time to sit down and watch before this Christmas.