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A contemporary comedy based on Charles Dickens' novel "A Christmas Carol," focusing on a television executive who decides to exploit the holidays to boost ratings.
For more about Scrooged and the Scrooged Blu-ray release, see Scrooged Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 22, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alfre Woodard, John Glover, Carol Kane
Director: Richard Donner
» See full cast & crew
Scrooged Blu-ray Review
Paramount's latest catalogue offering features strong video and audio.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 22, 2011
We don't want to scare the Dickens out of people.
Stop and think, for a moment, of literature's "immortal tales." Maybe the revenge-laden story that is Moby Dick makes the list, perhaps it's the life of a girl forced to parade around town with a large "scarlet letter" adorning her garb that comes to mind, or does the sight of an old man on the sea conjure up a notion of literary nostalgia? One such tale that should make everyone's list is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's probably the go-to fictional reference piece based on what is, for many people, the most important day of the year. But it's not just the tradition of reading it in front of the fire or around the tree at Christmastime that's made it such a memorable tale; it's also the story's widespread incursion into filmed entrainment that's allowed it to enjoy an even more broad audience. From one of the earliest adaptations starring Tom Ricketts from cinema's silent era all the way to a dazzling modern spectacle of special effects wizardry in Robert Zemeckis' motion capture dazzler, the story is no stranger to film and, therefore, no stranger to most anyone with access to cable television, a home video collection, or yes, a well-loved hardbound Christmas book. But there's one filmed adaptation that stands not above the rest, but sort of off to the side. It's a wonderfully off-kilter, uproariously funny, but at the same time heartfelt look at the story through the yes of, who else, Comedy legend Bill Murray playing the part of the not-so-old codger -- in this take on the classic tale, anyway -- Ebenezer Scrooge. While Murray's Scrooged plays almost like a side show version of the story, it remains faithful to the original tale's basic tenants and plot. It's a feel-good, well-made modernization that's a real underdog when it comes to its potential place on a list of films worthy of being labeled Holiday "classics," but it has just as much of a chance of cracking any Christmas movie "best of" collection out there.
IBC executive Frank Cross (Bill Murray) has only one thing on the brain: success. He doesn't care about his employees, even at Christmastime. Ratings, ratings, and ratings are the three things that drive Frank. He is of the belief that fear and violence, not goodness and holiday spirit, are the keys to bolstering Christmas network ratings, and he's taken just that approach in his own personal advertising campaign meant to promote the station's upcoming Christmas extravaganza, a live worldwide production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Frank fires a squirmy employee (Bobcat Goldthwait) who voices opposition to his ad campaign, and he refuses to allow his kindly secretary Grace (Alfre Woodard) to go home on Christmas eve to be with her family and traumatized son who hasn't spoken since the death of his father. Frank's opinions on the holiday season, lack of Christmas cheer, and general bah-humbug attitude are about to be challenged when he's approached by the badly-decayed corpse of his predecessor, an old TV man named Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), who warns Frank that he's to be visited by three ghosts, each of whom will shine a light on his life and the (mostly negative) impact it's had on others. Will this otherworldly ordeal change Frank, or will he remain stubbornly set in his ways, exploiting Christmas rather than finding the true meaning behind it?
So Scrooged covers one of those indelible, timeless staples of fiction, and it does so with panache. The movie is light on its feat and endlessly energetic, yielding a high entertainment value and fun factor that plays nicely with, but doesn't dominate, the film's more tender underbelly. Still, this is probably the goofiest take on the classic Dickens story, both in a good and a bad sort of way. Purists will dislike the "updates" that frame the story, but they should enjoy its faithfulness to the basic principles that depict a man changing his ways not because he's frightened into doing so, but because he finally sees the world as it was, is, and could be under his heartless reign near the top of the food chain. Scrooged retains those good values of charity, acceptance, and understanding without beating the audience over the head with its messages. The movie is a Comedy first and foremost, but like the best that genre has to offer, it's built around something far more substantial than humor. The end result is a picture that, while not exactly fit for the whole family for its adult-oriented innuendo, language, and situations, still resonates with the purpose and heart that Dickens intended when he wrote the original story well over 150 years ago. As the old saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
Of all the good that Scrooged has to offer, one question lingers above all others: when in the wide world of sports is The Night the Reindeer Died coming out? Really, has there ever been a better glimpse at a fictional movie-within-a-movie as this? Brilliant idea, corny to be sure, but if Silent Night, Deadly Night II can get a green light, surely someone can coax a studio into making this thing. Maybe substitute Dwayne Johnson in for the Lee Majors character seeing that it's twenty-some years later, but boy, does that movie ever need to be made. Anyway, back to Scrooged. Bill Murray's performance is excellent once again, and he does the whole "bah humbug" thing extraordinarily well, at least in a 1980s comedic Gordon Gekko sort of way. The picture is smart in depicting him as a heartless, mindless, ratings-driven monster who, even when his own network is exerting untold levels of work to put on a live worldwide production of A Christmas Carol, still fails to see the story's relevance and heart, even when he's sinking all kinds of resources into making it a success. Murray brilliantly captures the part on all spectrums -- the cold executive, the frightened and confused time traveler, and the changed man -- with equal gusto and believability. It's a part tailor-made for an actor such as Murray who's capable of such a broad range, for that is exactly what the part demands. That he can add his unbeatable comedic cadence to the part is an added bonus, and he's largely responsible for creating what is the most unique take on Dickens' famous holiday tale ever committed to film.
Scrooged Blu-ray, Video Quality
Scrooged arrives on Blu-ray with a solid 1080p Blu-ray transfer. Fine detail is rather strong, whether as evident on Murray's porous face or the crusty details that make up the dried-out Lew character. The various low-grade IBC footage holds up well, too. Clarity is strong and the image is aided by slight grain retention. Colors are very well balanced; the movie is fairly dark in many spots, and while minor crush is cause for concern -- black clothes often disappear into shadowy corners -- the palette is stable throughout its varied range. Flesh tones appear natural and balanced. The print is clean and the image is generally sharp, though a few slightly soft scenes creep in from time to time. Blocking, banding, and the like never factor into the equation. This is a genuinely solid, good-looking catalogue transfer. Most longtime fans should be pleased with the results.
Scrooged Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Scrooged features a balanced and satisfying DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track is rich and full, yielding impressive results with every opportunity it has to go beyond simple dialogue. It offers good musical spacing and robust clarity, both made better by minor back channel aid. Directional effects are strong, as evidenced almost immediately during the siege on the North Pole. Bass is strong in this and other scenes, too; it's balanced and forceful but not obnoxious for the sake of volume and disingenuous effect. A few shotgun blasts as heard in the film's final act are suitably potent. Ambience around the office, on the set of IBC's A Christmas Carol, and in other stops around the film is natural and nicely enveloping. Dialogue is smooth and center-focused. This is a surprisingly robust track; there much to be heard, and Paramount's track reveals its all nicely.
Scrooged Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, this Blu-ray release of Scrooged contains only the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:37) as its lone supplement.
Scrooged Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Scrooged is a fun little movie that mixes the new with the old while espousing the same basic principles as the tellings that have come before it. While the first act is demonstrably different from anything else in the A Christmas Carol universe, the picture settles into an air of familiarity once the ghosts show up. From there, the movie becomes linear and predictable in substance but not in style. Still, it all comes down to a life forever changed for the better, a story of mistakes made, opportunities missed, and old wounds healed within the frame of the spirit of Christmas and the notions of charity, forgiveness, and understanding. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Scrooged contains no substantive extras, but it does yield solid video and audio. Recommended.
Scrooged: Other Editions
Scrooged Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Scrooged Blu-ray - August 16, 2011
Paramount has announced the release of the Bill Murray holiday comedy Scrooged. The 1988 film, which is loosely based on the Charles Dickens character was directed by Richard Donner and stars Murray as a successful but heartless TV executive who is taken on a trip ...
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