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High-spirited high jinks on Christmas Eve put Frank Cross (Bill Murray) in a ghostly time warp in this hilarious take-off of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Cross, who has made the meteoric rise from the depths of the mailroom to TV network president, is mean, nasty, uncaring, unforgiving and has a sadistic sense of humor - perfect qualities for a modern-day Scrooge. Before the night is over, he’ll be visited by a maniacal New York cab driver from the past, a present-day fairy who’s into pratfalls and, finally, a ghoulish, seven-foot headless messenger from the future.
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Secondly, Scrooged is basically a farce and so by its very nature everything has to be over the top. That's how a farce works. If Bill Murray's character had been a mildly grumpy man it would have fallen flat. Everything is exaggerated to its maximum effect. Bill Murray's Frank Cross isn't bad, he's horrible. As the movie begins he does something awful, then he does something even worse, then he tops even that, totally plumbing the depths of being an unprincipled scoundrel. There's seemingly no limit to how awful Frank Cross can be. And Bill Murray was the perfect actor in the role. It's the summation of the cynical, smug character that Bill Murray had developed over the years. He plays it beautifully, too: no winks at the camera, just totally straight as the boss from hell. It's his film, he had to carry it and he did so, perfectly.
The film by Richard Donner, a director known for action films was shot between Lethal Weapon I and II. It knocks you out of any preconceived expectations by opening with an armed invasion of Santa's Workshop at the North Pole (The Day the Reindeer Died) featuring an actual action star then goes off in several other unexpected directions until you don't know what will happen next and that's the general way the whole film is. It's also loaded with unexpected casting and surprise cameos which are all part of the fun. Some of this may have lost some effect as time has gone by and new viewers may not understand some of the references, but it's still a funny film even if you don't know who all the actors are. It also satirizes the notion that any publicity is good publicity, industry awards and the quest for network ratings. The supporting cast is excellent, even Murray's younger brother playing Frank Cross's younger brother. If you like Bill Murray, you'll love it.
There is almost nothing negative to say about this film, it's a vastly underrated film. And, for jazz fans, if you look closely, you'll catch Miles Davis as a street musician in NYC. Great touch.
It does need a bit of editing. Alas, the end sequence goes on too long and the vibe winds up enforcedly joyful. And I wish the creators had somehow contrived to keep the shotgun out of the control room. It reminds us that, for all the rampant good feeling on display down on the sound stage, the technical folks upstairs are still being held at gunpoint. For a Christmas movie, that’s not exactly a good look.
Wonderful. Bill Murray---and most of his actual relatives---are in this, along
with cameos, etcetera, from all the big-name stars Bill could get to pad the
cast. The movie slows down at the end, gets a little sappy, but while JESUS
does NOT make a guest-appearance just about everone else does. Amen!
NICE PRICE, includes the theatrical preview trailer... and a cast of HUNDREDS!