Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guilty Pleasure Pick: Holiday Movies, part 3: Scrooged

 Frank Cross: I get it. You're here to show me my past, and I'm supposed to get all dully-eyed and mushy. Well, forget it, pal, you got the wrong guy!
Ghost of Christmas Past: That's exactly what Attila the Hun said. But when he saw his mother... Niagara Falls! 

Scrooged (1988).
Find it in the catalog!

Outside of the Christmas B-Horror realm of the Gingerdead Man (2005) and Santa Claws (1996), Scrooged has to be one of the darkest Christmas movies around.  A loose adaptation of Dicken's oft remade Christmas Carol,  Scrooged follows around cynical, selfish and occasionally mean dude, Francis Xavier Cross (think proto-Jack Donaghy).  Cross is a TV exec, who in a meta twist, is in the midst of making a made-for-TV adaptation of the Christmas Carol.  He's such a grouch that he doesn't blink an eye at stapling antlers on a mouse, or stealing a taxi cab from an elderly lady.  Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Cross is financially successful but at a great cost to his personal life.  He chose his career over his one true love Claire (Karen Allen), and only his brother James (John Murray) still reaches out to him.

The movie and Bill Murray at their best when Cross is behaving badly.  Once Cross goes soft, the movie loses its bite and Murray's final speech seems too maudlin and preachy to be delivered by Cross (even reformed).  Also, Scrooged dates back to the 80s, so the pop culture and political references are more than a little dated. Still, if you ignore the feel good ending, it's a nice alternative to some of the more treacly and sentimental Christmas fare out there.  Below are my top five favorite things about Scrooged:

5).  David Johansen as the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Glam rocker David Johansen portrays the Ghost of Christmas Past as a hard-bitten New York cabbie, complete with a thick Brooklyn accent.  Johansen lays the sarcasm on thick and his attitude is so tough that even Cross even lets him call him "Frankie Angel." 

4).  Ads for the Holiday Line-up.  The film starts out with commercials for some of IBC's (Cross's network) terrible holiday line-up.  Shows include:
  • The Night the Reindeer Died.  Lee Majors must defend the North Pole from intruders.
  • Bob Goulet's Cajun Christmas.  America's favorite lounge singer covers Christmas carols like "Silver Bells" while riding in a gondola in a swamp.
  • Scrooge:  Starring Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim.  Not only does she walk without her crutches, she does back flips!

3)."Put a Little Love in Your Heart" Sing-a-long. While I'm not a fan of Cross's misty-eyed on camera break down speech, I do love the sing-a-long ending.  Particularly, when the trapped souls in the Ghost of Christmas Future's ribcage join in. 

2).  Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present.  Kane plays the Ghost of Christmas Present as kind of a Manic Pixie Nightmare Girl.  Dressed as a fairy, she's full of energy and seems to enjoy every minute of her visit, but she also uses violence when necessary (or unnecessary) with Cross- like smacking him with a toaster.

1).  Bill Murray is in it.  And seriously, isn't he usually the best thing about every movie he's ever made?