Dennis suggests Scrooged (in Comedy). Christmas movies are an abomination, sure, churned out like gristly, sugary sausages every holiday season because people will eat up any damned thing at Christmastime as long as there’s a damned candycane on the poster, but Scrooged is one of those exceptions that proves that inexorable rule. It’s not a perfect movie. God, no. Director Richard Donner seems to have been drunk, perhaps on eggnog, when he assembled it, as evidenced by the ham-handed transitions, atrocious dubbing in spots, cable-access quality insert shots (notice how the characters constantly switch up the name of that soup kitchen), and complete misunderstanding of how important rhythm is to a comedy, but this dark retelling of ‘A Christmas Carol’ has some great things going for it. The script, cowritten by Mitch Glazer and ‘SNL’ and ‘National Lampoon’‘s legendary prince of darkness Michael O’Donoghue, is refreshingly mean and subversive (before, admittedly, it gets inevitably squishy at the
end), Carol Kane makes a bewilderingly psychotic fairy Ghost of Christmas Present (she sent the star to the hospital after one scene), Bobcat Goldthwait is always a personal favorite, and Karen Allen is as achingly adorable as she’s ever been. But the big reason to watch Scrooged is, of course, Bill Murray, who has the opportunity to both rage with snarky, evil glee (as Frank Cross, network executive and meanest man in the world), and (as he inevitably is shown the error of his ways) to bust out some of the deadpan soulfulness that came to full prominence later in his amazing turns in films like Lost in Translation, Rushmore, Broken Flowers, The Royal Tenenbaums, etc (his scenes with the lovely Allen are particularly affecting). Sure, there are a couple of moments where he seems to be reaching too hard for an effect, but that’s what happens when you’re on the high wire sometimes. You can feel O’Donoghue straining against the necessary soppiness of the big ending, but Murray’s final speech, ragged and loose and weird, just
about redeems the convention (and the idea that the real Christmas miracle is that, once a year, New Yorkers are actually nice to each other, is pretty funny.) Stay for the credits and walk out with a big, dumb smile on your face.