“Scrooged” is clever but isn’t really that funny. It’s inspirational even though its miserly hero doesn’t really undergo or exhibit that much change until the film’s final moments. It’s remembered fondly for being an adult Christmas movie, despite being just as accessible to kids as it is to their parents (save for that one half-nipple scene)
Still, it feels like a classic. Probably because it came out at peak Murray-dom in the 1980s, where anything featuring just five minutes of the sardonic sage was considered a comedy masterpiece. But also because it genuinely does have a hopeful and harmonious message at its core, a tale of modern day selfishness and the living and dead heroes who help him one snap out of it.
Murray plays Frank Cross, a television executive whose tolerance for dealing with humans is receding faster than his hairline. If Frank could assign every meeting, greeting and handshake to someone else, he would. But Frank has to be cordial on this Christmas Eve, as his network is producing a live telecast of “A Christmas Carol,” a stupid but lucrative endeavor.
Just like the classic tale, Frank is visited by three ghosts, showing him at a different point in his life as an effort to change his selfish ways. Frank shows genuine sadness over different periods of his life, his eyes brimming with tears of regret, but he shows no indication that he wants to change or is thinking about becoming a better person, just that he didn’t like how things were then, or now.
This makes the final transformation a bit unbelievable. But it’s still a worthwhile investment because of Bill Murray. He doesn’t actually say that much funny stuff int he film, we’re just lead to believe that because it came out of his mouth, its inherently hilarious. Not the case, but the comedy icon does bring a certain offbeat charm to the holiday movie genre, a slightly fractured ornament that still shines brilliantly on the Hollywood Christmas tree.