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Richard Donner
Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard
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
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish Dolby 1.0
French Dolby 2.0
Italian Dolby 2.0
German Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $25.99
Release Date: 11/7/2023

• Audio Commentary with Director Richard Donner
• “A Christmas to Remember” Featurette
• “Updating Ebenezer” Featurette
• “Bringing the Ghosts to Life” Featurette
• “The Look of Scrooged” Featurette
• “On the Set” Featurette
• “ShoWest Clips” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Scrooged [4K UHD] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 30, 2023)

With 1988’s 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 – fresh off 1987’s 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 didn’t boast a great reception in either direction.

I saw Scrooged during its initial release and recall a general sense of disappointment. While I didn’t dislike the movie, I know I expected something more from it.

I wish I could say high expectations created this opinion in 1988. No – the problem stems from the spotty movie itself.

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.

Frank 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, Frank’s eternal fate doesn’t 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.

However, most don’t do a lot to make the tale different. While there’s nothing wrong with those literal editions, it’s still nice to see a project that tries to bring 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, I’m 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 don’t think all – or even most – of them work.

The main problem comes from pacing, as Scrooged really seems to plod a lot of the time. We’re 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 doesn’t 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 the usual suspects along with many others. The new personalities don’t 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 can’t say that any of the actors do much with their roles. In particular, Bill Murray disappoints.

This just doesn’t 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 doesn’t play cruelty well.

In addition, Murray also struggles with sincerity, an issue that hampers the finale. We need to buy Frank’s conversion but Murray’s performance lacks the heart it needs to create the requisite impression of renewed joy.

Ultimately, I think my analysis of Scrooged as a disappointment in 1988 remains accurate. This isn’t a poor movie, but it seems like one that doesn’t live up to its potential. It comes short on laughs, charm or real heart.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Scrooged appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The Dolby Vision image reproduced the source well.

Overall sharpness worked fine. Some softness crept in at times – usually related to visual effects – but most of the movie gave us appropriate delineation.

Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt consistent and natural, and I saw no print flaws.

Colors came with some “80s flatness”, but they showed reasonable clarity. HDR added a bit of kick to the tones.

Blacks appeared dark and tight, while low-light shots brought nice clarity. HDR made whites and contrast a little stronger. While it betrayed its 1980s roots, I nonetheless felt the movie looked about as good as one could hope.

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 film’s comic roots.

These kinds of movies usually don’t provide active soundtracks, and while Scrooged had some wild moments due to its supernatural elements, the spectrum usually remained fairly subdued. However, music showed good stereo separation in the front channels, and the score also spread 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 wasn’t a dazzling soundfield, but it seemed good given its era and the flick’s genre.

Audio quality was perfectly solid. Dialogue sounded positive, without obvious edginess. Effects could show a bit more range but they 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 4K UHD compare to the 30th anniversary Blu-ray from 2018? Audio seemed similar but felt a bit cleaner and more vibrant.

The Dolby Vision image delivered substantial improvements, as the 4K became better defined, more vivid and more natural. The 4K clearly topped the dated Blu-ray.

Note that Scrooged originally hit Blu-ray back in 2011. The 2018 disc simply repackaged that 2011 release, so that means the same comparisons against the 4K apply.

These Blu-rays included only the movie’s trailer, which oddly goes missing here. However, we find a bunch of additional materials, all created/intended for a 2006 DVD that never saw the light of day.

We begin with an audio commentary from director Richard Donner. He offers a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, cut material, sets and locations, effects, and a few other areas.

Historically, Donner commentaries have been short on content and long on... well, not much. Unfortunately, that trend continued here.

Oh, you'll find the occasional nugget of value, but these appear with extreme infrequency. At most, we might get five minutes of worthwhile information, and acres of dead air occur.

When he talks, Donner makes exciting remarks like "look at that!", "is she a beautiful woman or what?" and - oddly - "we don't talk about lacrosse anymore". Fans who waited 17 years to finally hear the commentary will encounter severe disappointment from this borderline worthless affair.

Featurettes follow, and A Christmas to Remember runs 14 minutes, four seconds. It offers notes from Donner, screenwriter Mitch Glazer, and actors Alfre Woodard, Carol Kane, Bill Murray (from 1988) and John Forsythe (from 1988).

"Remember" looks at the script's path to the screen and Donner's involvement, story/characters, cast and performances, and the film's legacy. We get a few worthwhile notes and I like the shots from the set, but "Remember" leans pretty fluffy most of the time.

Updating Ebenezer spans 13 minutes, 34 seconds. Here we find remarks from Glazer, Donner, Murray (from 1988), Kane and producer Art Linson.

This one covers the origins of the project and the film's modifications to the source. It becomes a fairly tight overview.

Next comes Bringing the Ghosts to Life. In this nine-minute, 53-second reel, we hear from special makeup effects artists Tom and Bari Burman, production designer J. Michael Riva, and special effects coordinator Allen Hall.

Unsurprisingly, "Bringing" examines various effects used on the film and other aspects of the ghosts' depiction. We find a quality little show.

The Look of Scrooged occupies six minutes, 22 seconds. It gives us info from Donner and Riva.

As expected, "Look" discusses sets, locations and visual design. It relies on too many movie clips but still gives us some good details.

After this we get On Set With Bill Murray. This breaks into two segments: “Brother’s Apartment” (3:22) and “Frisbee the Dog” (3:41).

As implied by the title, these sequences take us to the shoot. We see some behind the scenes material and clowning around in these moderately interesting reels.

Finally, we locate two ShoWest Clips with Bill Murray. This array offers “The Best Money Can Buy” (1:15) and “Now Everybody Get Up” (0:59).

Intended to help sell the movie to exhibitors, Murray offers his standard style of comedy. Murray makes these reels fun.

Back in 1988, I expected Scrooged to offer a lively reworking of A Christmas Carol. It seemed disappointing to me back then and hasn’t improved with age; while it delivers mild entertainment, it doesn’t offer enough amusement and creativity to succeed. The 4K UHD comes with solid visuals, good audio and a mixed bag of supplements. I don’t love this movie, but the 4K UHD easily becomes the best version of it released to the home market to date.

To rate this film visit the prior review of SCROOGED

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main