Scrooged is one of those cult Christmas films you always hear about, but I must admit to never having seen it before.
The film follows a TV executive (played by Bill) who's encouraged to change his selfish, obnoxious ways after being visited by four apparitions over the festive period – you know the story!
Anyway, I sat down to watch the 1988 festive feature – without any of the context I just explained to you – and here's everything that went through my mind as I did...
1. Okay, I’m confused. I was expecting cobbled streets and baker boy hats – why is there a Santa in his workshop?
2. Okay, I get it, it’s a film within a film. That explains why a gunman has broken in to save Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves.
3. He’s played by Lee Majors… “Lee Majors’ is hot!” That’s the only frame of reference I have for Lee, Phoebe saying that in Friends.
4. Okay, so they’re cycling through Christmas TV special trailers. It’s not clear who “they” is yet, but I laughed out loud at Father Loves Beaver. What in the Naked Gun is THAT special about?
5. Bill is playing the youngest president in the history of television – he’s definitely hubristic enough to warrant a massive fall to reality!
6. Okay, his assistant Grace (played by Alfre Woodard) is the most ‘80s looking woman I’ve ever seen.
7. Alright, so Bill – I should call him by his character name, Frank – is showing his version of a trailer for Scrooge, an adaptation his network has made. It’s giving that bit in 13 Going on 30 when Lucy gives her “deadly serious... fashion suicide” presentation.
8. Is Eliot Loudermilk (an exec in this meeting with Frank) supposed to be like Bob Cratchit then?
9. How can everything at this network be resting on a Scrooge adaptation? I know it’s 1988, but surely even then A Christmas Carol was overplayed?
10. Oh god, Grace NEEDS a new job. Her work-life situation makes Anne’s in The Devil Wears Prada look cushty.
11. I’m not sure who Grace is supposed to be in terms of A Christmas Carol, but her son doesn’t speak. Does that mean anything to anyone?
12. Ooh, Frank is working late and I think the first ghost is about to visit!
13. Damn, no special effects spared for this arrival!
14. Oh my god, a golf ball and a mouse just fell out of this ghost man’s head. He’s in a bad way.
15. Ohhhhhh, this isn’t a ghost, it’s the equivalent of Jacob Marley!
16. Bill Murray makes a lot of high-pitched sneaky noises in this movie, which is fun.
17. Okay, this decrepit man needs to go now, he’s grossing me out.
18. Okay moving on… Frank’s trailer for Scrooge has apparently scared a woman to death and he’s just like – “all publicity is good publicity.” This is a parody, of course, but they’ve really nailed corporate America.
19. Okay Frank is talking to someone called Claire, who I’m guessing is like the only person he’s ever cared about.
20. Claire, babe, this man has demonstrated about 17 red flags in the five minutes you’ve been around him. I’d skedaddle, to be honest.
21. So Frank is definitely starting to lose touch with reality. He’s at an important dinner with his boss (the super president, god knows what his title is) and he’s seeing all these things.
22. It’s all kicking off in this dining room – people are on fire, there are eyeballs in glasses of water.
23. Frank has been picked up in a cab by the Ghost of Christmas Past who has cracking hair, but is looking rough in every other aspect.
24. His accent is also soooooo New York-sounding. He sounds like Robert De Niro appearing in an episode of “Bronx Beat” on SNL.
25. I’ve just realised that this is all happening in a world where A Christmas Carol actually does exist, so why Frank hasn’t put it together that he's Scrooge?
26. Okay, that door thing that the Ghost of Christmas Past does is JOKES. If I was a ghost messenger, I’d be doing that ALL. THE. TIME.
27. Ah, we’re back in Frank’s childhood learning an age old truth – that bullies beget bullies. In this case, it's his dad.
28. Oh my God, his heavily pregnant mum is getting up to go out and YOU KNOW she’s not coming back 😢.
29. Okay, now we’re back at the office. It’s still the past, and they’re having a Christmas party. A woman is xeroxing her ass and asking for the copies to be passed out, so I’d guess the party’s been going on for a while.
30. Oh wow. A younger version of Frank is there and his hair is… Interesting to say the least.
31. Wait, so, the big takeaway from this scene is that Tina – the lady who was xeroxing her ass – was into Frank and he blew her off, which he now regrets. I don’t know if standards were lower back in ‘88, but Miss Tina kinda looks like a waxwork of a blow up sex doll. Sorry Tina.
32. Okay, now he’s meeting Claire, ostensibly the love of his life. She’s giving Liz Hurley meets Kate Bush… it’s a powerful combo.
33. Ew, the Ghost of Christmas Past is perving on Claire in the bath. Misogyny reigns even in the ghost world!
34. Oh WOW. Claire has bought the Kama Sutra for Frank for Christmas. Christ, that’s a wake-up call, Francis.
35. Wow, I misjudged Claire. I thought she was gonna be a ~nothing~ love interest, but she might just be a freak.
36. Okay, I’m done with this Ghost now. I happen to know Carol Kane is the next ghost, so I’m gonna need her to come onto the scene.
37. Wow, 50 minutes in we have a TEXTBOOK example of gaslighting. Frank from the past gets invited to a dinner by some fancy exec, and he wants to cancel plans that he and Claire have had for two months to go. When she protests, he reprimands her for being “selfish”, and then “forgives” her after she apologies for some reason! WTAF.
38. “Maybe we should separate”... Heck yes, Claire! Get out of there!
39. Oh dear, Claire slips out the door and says “Merry Christmas” just like Frank’s mum did.
40. Okay, the Ghost of Christmas Past is gone and thank fuck for that.
41. It’s the present again, and the first time we’ve seen Eliot Loudermilk in a while (Frank fired him earlier for criticising his trailer). He’s just given blood for cash and now he’s lying in a rubbish heap. I don’t want to sound flippant, but is that what really becomes of executives when they lose their jobs in America?
42. Frank has stumbled into a homeless shelter and three people sitting together have mistaken him for Richard Burton. Honestly, you look at your phone ONCE during a movie and suddenly ~nothing~ makes sense!
43. Ahhh, he was looking for Claire. So he’s just found her and offered to take her for Chinese food, and now suddenly she’s back with him! I don’t wanna say Claire is easy, but her bar is VERY low.
44. Wait, Claire wouldn’t jack in what she was doing right at that second to go with him, so now he’s chucked her again. What a class act you are, Frank!
45. He just said “Bah Humbug!” Do you think he knows he’s Scrooge?!?!
46. Oh my god, Carol Kane’s the Ghost of Christmas Present has just entered the fray in the most deranged way possible… Now we’re talking!!
47. I’m sorry, she was in "The Ballbreaker Suite" (don't ask me what that is) and then she flew into him and kicked him in the balls. Is there a more iconic entrance in the history of cinema?
48. This ghost is wayyyy more into learning Frank the hard way! To be fair, I think he still needs it at this point.
49. Okay, so this is the part of the story where Frank, AKA Scrooge, sees what damage his callousness is doing to the people in his life. We go to see Grace and her family struggling to get by at Christmas, which means Grace is also Bob Crotchit???
50. Oh, casual… Calvin (Grace’s son who doesn’t speak, if you recall) hasn’t talked since he saw his father killed 5 years ago. Just some light trauma then.
51. Carol is serving up a seriously camp, otherworldly ghost. I’d expect nothing else.
52. The Ghost has taken Frank to spy on his brother at Christmas, which is how he learns that there are still people in his life who care about him despite his awfulness. That’s a real turning point for any iteration of Scrooge, I think.
53. Frank falls into an icy bunker and says, “what is this, Trump Tower?” which I appreciate.
54. He’s now back at the network where he works, but he’s kind of lost touch with reality. Everyone is rightly concerned about him.
55. Again, it’s so weird that in the background of this film about a Scrooge-like figure going on a journey through his past, present, and future is an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Well, I guess it’s only weird that Frank doesn’t really acknowledge that parallel.
56. Oh damn, the Ghost of Christmas Future is near and he’s serving up a sort of Ghostface fantasy. Brace yourself, Frank.
57. Wait, WTF?!? Who’s blasted into Frank’s office waving a shotgun around?
58. Plot fucking twist – it’s Eliot Loudermilk, drunk off his face and here to avenge his firing the day before Christmas!
59. Okay, I’ve never known anyone to do such a 180 upon losing their job. We’re talking high-flying executive to gun-wielding maniac inside 24 hours.
60. Eliot is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that he’s adopted this sort of cartoon voice. Did he always sound like that? Please comment if you know the cartoon character he’s mimicking.
61. Okay, it looks like Frank’s about to meet his maker at the hands of Eliot, but instead he falls back into a lift accompanied by the Ghost of Christmas Future.
62. Okay, we see a future in which Calvin has been sectioned – presumably because he still won’t talk, which seems drastic to me. Meanwhile, Claire is a high society bitch (serving up some Katherine Helmond in Brazil) because Frank told her to stop helping people.
63. Naturally this, plus being confronted with the scene of your own death, transforms Frank’s outlook. I’m still not convinced he’s gonna be nice now, but hey, there’s 15 minutes left.
64. Sorry, but what is original or new about this interpretation of A Christmas Carol? Again, I can’t believe the whole network hinges on this movie.
65. Frank is now addressing the nation during the live broadcast of Scrooge. I never knew it was gonna be live... Was it always gonna be live?
66. HOLD UP! I’ve realised who Eliot Loudermilk sounds like… it’s Pain from Hercules!
67. Oh my God, that’s because Bobcat Goldthwait voiced Pain. I feel so dumb.
68. Also, while we’re here, I’m realising how much Bill Murray sounds like Jason Bateman. Like, Bill in this movie and Jason in Arrested Development – voice twins.
69. Honestly, WTF is happening? Frank is kissing dancers in the background of the show, Eliot is shooting out windows. It feels a bit like the director lost control and let Bill and Bobcat go to town on the adlibs at this point.
70. Frank ~literally~ just kissed some woman, and now he's making a declaration of love to Claire.
71. “It’s not too late, is it Claire?” Claire, come on... Don’t take him back! He says he’s seen the error of his ways, but he’s clearly still a narcissist.
72. So the live broadcast of Scrooge is still going on even though Frank and Eliot have totally commandeered it. Frank is singing god-awfully, and people are loving it – WHY??? Is nothing else on?
73. For real, this is supposed to be an inspiring monologue but I know a babbling lunatic when I see one.
74. Calvin said, “God Bless Us Everyone”. HURRAY! That’s nice for Grace.
75. Honestly, a bizarre ending. The ghosts are all back, Grace started singing and everyone joined in, two characters who had never met before started making out and I’m pretty sure it was not mutually consensual. All's well that ends well??? I still think Claire (and Grace for that matter) can do better though.