From the opening, where “Six Million Dollar Man” Lee Majors and a heat-packing Mrs. Clause help defend Santa’s workshop from terrorists, you know you’re not in for your standard Charles Dickens tale. SCROOGED is a darkly comic take on the oft-told story with a few creative twists. Despite the great cast and roster of memorable characters, this is Bill Murray’s show through and through, and he earns every laugh. The actor is a ton of fun as a huge, sardonic a-hole, which makes the first half of the movie incredibly enjoyable. In fact, Murray is so great being Scroogey to everyone that you almost pray he doesn’t learn the eventual lesson we all know is coming.
Once the classic CHRISTMAS CAROL plot takes over, the movie is a bit more predictable, but there’s enough of a meta-spin to keep it enjoyable. There’s Carol Kane as a delightfully assaultive Ghost of Christmas Present, New York Dolls singer David Johansen as a rude cabbie Ghost of Christmas Past, and a fantastic Bobcat Goldthwait as a Bob Cratchit who’s snapped. (It’s not Christmas til Bobcat wields a shotgun!) Heck, even Mary Lou Retton pops in as Tiny Tim. The one truly new addition is the requisite love interest, played by the always jovial Karen Allen. It’s kind of a weak romantic subplot, but there’s always room for Marion Ravenwood.
Legendary action director Richard Donner (SUPERMAN, LETHAL WEAPON) doesn’t seem to have too firm a grasp on comedy, but thankfully Murray is there to work his magic in nearly every scene. There’s seriously so many memorable lines or moments in the movie just thanks to him. His final big speech and on air break down at the end is a actually quite nice. I don’t know if I buy the character’s massive change in the story but Murray really sells it just by being himself.
Extra Tidbit: Look for legendary jazz artist Miles Davis as a street musician.