When it came to compiling my three Christmas movies to watch over the festive season, it surprised me most of all that this made the list. After all there are better Christmas movies 'Miracle of 34th Street' for example and there are better versions of the Scrooge tale, such as the Alistair Sim version. But this has Bill Murray in. And make no mistake that warrants two stars on it's own.For this is undoubtedly Murrays show and practically the only reason to watch this more than once. He's Tv exec Frank Cross who is determined that he'll scare everyone into watching his live version of Scrooge this Christmas instead of making other plans. This ruthlessness extends into real life from firing a weakwilled employee Elliot Laudermilk (Bobcat Wildthwaite -remember him?) to sending his only brother a towel for Christmas.
And then - actually what's the point? We all know what the plot is suffice to say Christmas Past ghost is a grubby taxi driver (Dean Stockwell), while Christmas Present is violent fairy Carol Kane and Christmas Future is Death omniously enough. They all teach Cross a particular lesson before he changes his ways and makes good etc.
With a story as old as the hills it takes a lot to make it something special and unfortunately 'Scrooged' doesn't have quite enough. There's the right amount of darkness in the script (frozen tramps under the streets, the nasty version of the future Frank is shown) and some clever touches from director Richard Donner, but neither his direction or the script is as strong or as funny as Murray is. There's some great lines ("Oh who's she? She's pretty!"), but Murray brings more to 'Scrooged' than it perhaps deserves, and this isn't even one of his best performances being a 2nd rate version of his 'Groundhog Day' character.
Still, a 2nd rate Murray brings more to a comedy than a 1st rate Martin Lawrence ever will and he does have his moments such as suggesting stapling antlers to a mouse. And in the final inevitable slushy climax, he manages to bring a touch of dignity and conviction to a mawkish speech.So, a classic? By no means, the material just isn't there for all its running time. However when it is funny, it's very funny and Murray is always worth watching. And at Christmas you know you should be watching this.