Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Essentials- Scrooged (1988)

The Essentials- #87
I always liked "A Christmas Carol" growing up.
I was always absorbed by the way a particularly bad person became a good person over the span of one night. I know it real life, it takes some real practice, but acknowledging that you are wrong is the easily the hardest step. I always thought that there was something spiritual about "A Christmas Carol." We grew up believing that if we were not good boys or girls, that Santa Claus would fill our trees with coal instead of presents. As I grew up, this tidbit made me fear for Santa, the idea that he knows when I'm sleeping and when I'm awake didn't help me either. Santa seemed like a challenging figure to me growing up and its almost crazy how Santa can somewhat parallel our religious icons we also celebrate this time of year.
But the thing that I learned about "A Christmas Carol," and what is delightfully reinforced through "Scrooged," is that its not too late to be the person you want to be. Yes, we are human beings and we make mistakes. Some of those mistakes can be short-term, but other times they can be long-term. Sometimes, we may not know we are even making them. Sometimes, we need reminders showing us what we have become, and what will happen if we don't force change. But the glory of all of this is that its not too late to change. I think that is partially what Christmas is all about. It is a hectic, anxiety-ridden part of the year, but it all leads up to the point when you are sitting with your loved ones, giving to each other. Perhaps giving a few bucks here and there to the Salvation Army, or just showing repeated reminders why the people in your life mean so much to you. Its never too late to show them. Through all the humor and craziness that makes up "Scrooged," the ideas of never being too late and always loving smack me in the face every time I watch it.
It can be easy to write off "Scrooged" as being a modern re-telling of "A Christmas Carol," and that's exactly what it is. If you've read or seen "A Christmas Carol," you know exactly how this is going to go. Instead replace Ebenezer Scrooge with Bill Murray playing a cold television executive, and you've got a modern day "Christmas Carol." The thing is, these stories survive through constant re-telling, so it doesn't bother me at all that we have had so many incarnations of this story. I also think that "Scrooged," reinterprets this classic tale in the most fresh and most fun of ways. It's laugh-out-loud funny thanks to the work by Murray. But I also enjoy the supporting work of Karen Allen and especially Bobcat Goldthwait. The work by Carol Kane and David Johansen as the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present are superb.
I also have to admit that when the reanimated corpse of Lew Hayward, played by John Forsythe, appears to warn Murray's character of three ghosts, that scene used to scare the crap out of me. Anybody react that way?
"Scrooged" is a movie that has it all, but what I love most is that how overwhelmingly positive it is. So please, put a little love in your heart.

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