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Richard Donner
Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe
Writing Credits:
Mitch Glazer, Michael O'Donoghue

A cynically selfish TV executive gets haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.

Box Office:
$32 million.
Opening Weekend:
$13,027,842 on 1262 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish 1.0
French Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 11/13/2018

• Trailer


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Scrooged: 30th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 9, 2018)

With 1988ís Scrooged, we got what looked like a sure-fire hit and classic-to-be. Actor Bill Murray still provided a top box office draw in those days, and Richard Donner Ė fresh off 1987ís smash Lethal Weapon - took charge behind the camera.

Instead of the instant classic big hit, we got a holiday film that was neither boffo nor bomb. It did decent business and got fairly reasonable reviews, but it didnít boast a great reception in either direction.

I saw Scrooged during its initial release and recall a general sense of disappointment. While I didnít dislike the movie, I know I expected something more from it. 30 years later, I think itís time to give Scrooged another look and see if itís as meh as I remember.

Based on A Christmas Carol, Frank Cross (Murray) heads the IBC TV network. He tends toward lowest-common-denominator programming and displays a cutthroat attitude that worries about the bottom line. Cross shows no compassion toward people, not even his brother James (John Murray) or his long-time assistant Grace (Alfre Woodard).

With a track record of cruelty and coldness behind him, Frankís eternal fate doesnít look good. At the office after hours, Frank gets a visit from the ghost of Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), his former boss. Lew warns Frank that he needs to mend his selfish ways and three ghosts will visit him to move him along that quest.

If nothing else, Scrooged gets credit as something different in the Christmas Carol annals. Most versions of the story stick with its 19th century roots, so the retellings alter it in some ways but donít do a lot to make the tale different. While thereís nothing wrong with those literal editions, itís still nice to see a project that tries to do something unusual.

Which definitely happens here. Although Scrooged hits on the main Christmas Carol notes, it deviates from the source much of the time.

Scrooged adds/alters characters and brings in scenes with no Dickens corollary. Perhaps some view this as too much creative license, but given the existence of skittedly-twelve literal(ish) versions of Christmas Carol, Iím happy to check out something with its own flavor.

I just wish I derived more pleasure from that flavor. As much as I appreciate the attempts to throw curveballs into the tale, I donít think all Ė or even most Ė of them work.

The main problem comes from pacing, as Scrooged really seems to plod a lot of the time. Weíre more than 35 minutes into the movie before the first ghost comes along, and that seems like an awful lot of unnecessary exposition. The slowness causes impatience, as the extended set-up doesnít deliver much that becomes interesting or useful.

The film also just throws too many extraneous characters at us. Christmas Carol stays pretty basic, whereas Scrooged offers representatives for all of us usual suspects along with many others. The new personalities donít fit into the action very well, as they tend to bog down the story and lack much to expand it.

Scrooged boasts a strong cast, but I canít say that any of the actors do much with their roles. In particular, Bill Murray disappoints.

This just doesnít seem like a part that suits Murray;s talents, as he works best with charming smart-asses. Frank is mostly an unlikable tyrant, and Murray doesnít play cruelty well.

Ultimately, I think my analysis of Scrooged as a disappointment in 1988 remains accurate. This isnít a poor movie, but it seems like one that doesnít live up to its potential. It comes short on laughs, charm or real heart.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Scrooged appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The image showed its age but was a pretty decent representation of the source.

Face it Ė 1980s movies often look iffy, and that was the case here. Sharpness was generally adequate to good. Close-ups demonstrated fairly nice accuracy, but wider shots were less consistent. Though they usually provided positive clarity, they could be a bit on the soft side.

No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were minor; I saw a couple of small specks but nothing more.

Colors were typical of their 80s roots. They varied from pretty peppy to somewhat runny, but they seemed reasonably perky most of the time.

Blacks were decently deep and tight, and shadows usually looked fine; some low-light shots were a bit murky, but that wasnít the rule. I felt the image looked more than acceptable but not better than that.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Scrooged, it also showed it age but seemed generally fine. The soundfield offered a moderately engaging affair, though it stayed true to the filmís comic roots.

These kinds of movies usually donít provide active soundtracks, and while Scrooged had some wild moments due to its supernatural elements, the spectrum usually remained appropriately subdued. However, music showed good stereo separation in the front channels, and the score also spread very nicely to the surrounds. The forward domain displayed good atmosphere, with clean localization of sounds and smooth integration.

In addition to the usual ambience they added, the rear speakers also kicked in some louder support at times. This track featured a little stereo surround material on occasion, as some atmospheric bits clearly came localized in the back. This wasnít a dazzling soundfield, but it seemed good given its era and the flickís genre.

Audio quality was perfectly solid. Dialogue sounded acceptable; a little edginess occasionally appeared, but not frequently. Effects tended to seem a little thin but lacked distortion or notable problems.

Music sounded surprisingly robust and vivid, as the score became the strongest element here. Although little excelled, this became a more than adequate track for a movie from 1988.

How did this 2018 ď30th Anniversary EditionĒ compare to the the original Blu-ray from 2011? Both are identical Ė literally, as the 2018 version just repackages the 2011 release.

Scrooged lacks meaty extras. We get the filmís trailer and thatís it.

Back in 1988, I expected Scrooged to offer a lively reworking of A Christmas Carol. It seemed disappointing to me back then and hasnít improved with age; while it delivers mild entertainment, it doesnít offer enough amusement and creativity to succeed. The Blu-ray comes with acceptably good picture and audio but lacks supplements. This is a decent release but not one that fans need to pursue if they own the 2011 Blu-ray, as itís the same disc.

To rate this film visit the prior review of SCROOGED

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