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Scrooged (1988) Christmas film review

Directed by Richard Donner

Starring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, Robert Mitchum & Carol Kane

Film review Scrooged

There is a wonderful sequence towards the end of Scrooged. Bobcat Goldthwait (I wonder how he got on at school) plays Eliot Loudermilk, the recently fired, and highly disgruntled, ex-employee of Scrooge-a-like Frank Cross (Bill Murray). Loudermilk returns to his former workplace to dish out some retribution with a double-barrelled shotgun. In this moment the movie becomes a live action cartoon in the best possible sense; Goldthwait exudes the madcap energy of Daffy Duck or Sylvester the Cat at their most maniacal.

Alas, this is a rare highpoint in a film that’s ultimately something of a disappointment.

Scrooged is one of those films you watch with the slowly dwindling hope that it will live up to its promise. It’s got a decent set-up: A Christmas Carol updated to tell the story of a ruthless TV network president. It’s got Bill Murray in it. Esteemed critic Pauline Kael liked it. It should be great. So, what goes wrong?

Scrooged film review

Unfortunately, the Christmas film just never takes off the way you hope it will. This is mainly to do with Murray’s performance. Of course he has funny moments, but the character never quite sings the way his other characters do in Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.

However, the film has still got things going for it. Mainly the cinematography by Michael Chapman who also shot Taxi Driver and Raging Bull for Scorsese, and the supporting cast which includes Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, Robert Mitchum, Carol Kane and a fair few cameos. Even Miles Davis turns up at one point!

Most Christmas movies make you want to vomit up your turkey then go out and massacre some carol singers. So Scrooged could be a heck of a lot worse. Yeah, it may not be as good as Groundhog Day, but that’s set in February…so what can you do?

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