Day eight of Nick’s Flixmas takes us through our second A Christmas Carol flick, Scrooged, an adaptation of the story starring Bill Murray. Unlike the previous installments of this little event, I’ve never actually seen Scrooged before today. Why have I never seen it? It’s not one of the films constantly playing during ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” (only a few inconvenient times during the rotation), my mother or father’s not particularly fond of it, and…I just don’t like Bill Murray that much. Never have.
But maybe I can tolerate him a bit more now. Maybe.
[Nick’s Flixmas is a 25 day celebration of films Nick watches every Christmas! Nick will do some analysis, review, and just generally walk down memory lane. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the ride. Merry Flixmas!]
Scrooged is a darker take on the story which takes a man through several days and nights of mental trauma. It’s a decisively striking metanarrative that both dissects and uses the Christmas Carol formula. Although I’m not entirely sure it’s “meta” either. The frame of the narrative takes Frank (Bill Murray) through three visits from the Christmas Ghosts over the span of a few days (rather than the conventional single night) as he prepares a live television version of the Scrooge story. Rather than care about money, he cares about ratings and viewers. It’s a slightly pop culture filled skew. Strangely enough, by wrapping itself in a pop culture blanket, Scrooged is the most emotionally engaging Scrooge film I’ve seen in years.
Everything in the film is grittier. The Ghosts are jerks, but they’re loving jerks (which is something you couldn’t find in Bah Humduck). They’re full of personality. Past is a cab driver, Present is passive aggressive (emphasis on aggressive), and Death is actually frighteningly designed (with several smaller lost souls wrapped within its body). There’s something about Frank’s vision of death (complete with a live cremation) that makes his final transformation hit harder. That leads me to the film’s imagery. Something about the film’s darker tone mixes with the film’s humor and becomes oddly cartoonish. Uh, I should explain.
The second to last scene has Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) shooting at Frank with a shotgun. We’ve seen Loudermilk’s fall to despair sprinkled throughout the film, so it’s not a complete surprise, but it’s coupled with a joke. It’s such a bombastically distressing scene, but with such a well handled levity, it becomes hilarious. Coupled that with his commanding others to party by threatening them with that shotgun gives us one of the best sequences in the film.
I still may not Bill Murray, but I can of understand him a little more as a character actor now. I’ve never been one to take a shine to his lovable jerk persona, but it’s thankfully brought down here. When frank cries at the end during his big speech, I could feel that he changed. It wasn’t something he decided to do in the moment, this change will last him awhile. Scrooged isn’t perfect (as it drops several plot lines), but it’s interesting. I think I’ll watch it again next year.
Hanging in there? Good! Tomorrow Nick’s Flixmas takes on the final Christmas Carol film, A Muppets Christmas Carol. Like I’d forget that!