Twenty-five years ago ... 'Scrooged' was released
05:00 AM, Nov 22, 2013
What’s your favorite holiday comedy?
Maybe you rank A Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation at the top. Me? I’d go with Scrooged.
Tomorrow marks 25 years since the movie’s release. And while I have a few friends who also regard Scrooged as a classic, I feel like it still hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves.
Directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies), Bill Murray starred in Scrooged just a few years after conquering the box office with that other ghost-themed comedy. As you may recall, the flick is an updated version of A Christmas Carol, putting Murray at the center as Frank, a grinch-like TV exec who cares more about money and over-the-top programming than his loved ones.
Though I think the story holds up extraordinarily well, one of Scrooged’s greatest assets is its cast. Karen Allen plays Frank’s love interest, with Carol Kane, the New York Dolls’ David Johansen and the late John Forsythe as ghosts who visit him. Cameos include this very brief one from Miles Davis (standing with Paul Shaffer and David Sanborn):
Other late, great talents appear as well, including Robert Mitchum, John Houseman, Robert Goulet, Anne Ramsey and Buddy Hackett.
Scrooged received mixed reviews upon its release it was called a “sprawling mess” and “appallingly unfunny” but I wonder if those critics would react the same way today. Sure, it’s a dark tale that doesn’t resemble any previous adaptation of the Dickens story. But, despite its notable cast, I love how it feels more like an indie than a blockbuster. (And actually, a decade before, screenwriters Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue penned one of my favorite cult movies, 1979’s Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video.)
I can recall seeing Scrooged with my family and laughing out loud … at completely different scenes. (I didn’t find “Have you tried staples?” funny then, but it cracks me up now!) While I have nothing against It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas, back in 1988 it was a relief to discover holiday fare that had a bit of an edge.
Murray received much warmer receptions for Ghostbusters and Caddyshack, but I think Scrooged is just as much of an ’80s essential. Between viewings of Love Actually and Rankin/Bass specials this winter, perhaps you should give it another whirl.