Day 24 - Scrooged

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bill Murray was my favorite actor. Although I had only seen him in a few movies, I always thought his performances were perfect and memorable. Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Quick Change...awesome. At one time, I had two full-sized movie theater posters in my room of movies Bill Murray was in: Ghostbusters II and Scrooged.

That poster was right across from my bed, so I saw it before I went to sleep and when I woke up in the morning. I remember even telling my mom that I wanted a hairstyle like Bill Murray. I had yet to understand what a receding hairline was. Unfortunately, I understand it now.

So, you could say that Scrooged secured a special place in my life. This movie--to me, at least--is a nearly perfect retelling of A Christmas Carol. Yes, you have the ghosts, the lessons learned, and Christmassy-ness everywhere, along with the excesses that could only be found in late-1980s New York City.

For your next Christmas party, how about serving up some Tab and vodka?
In this retelling of Charles Dickens's immortal classic, we are taken out of 1800s London and brought into the present day...where a television station is airing a live Christmas Eve special called Scrooge. Very meta, right? Although Buddy Hackett is playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the live special, this is our Scrooge: Francis Xavier Cross.
It's been around for years, so I'm not going to go into the whole A Christmas Carol story. You should know it by now. If you don't, well, head on over to Wikipedia or check on one of the many rehashes of the story. Take your pick: animated, CGI, something from an old sitcom, etc. What I'd like to talk about is how Scrooged hits particularly close to home for me and how it might for you as well.

Let's face it, Dickens wrote Scrooge as an asshole. Always looking to make a buck, not caring much for the people around him. Courtesy of the Ghost of Christmas Past, in the original story, Scrooge breaks things off with his girlfriend due to his ever-increasing lust for money. Frank Cross is different. We see him as an innocent child who had a neglectful childhood, especially from his father. No lights on the house. No toys. Just a kid who loves television and gets veal for Christmas. We have clues about what's going on in Frank's head, though. He wonders aloud why there are no Christmas lights on his childhood home. Frank also states previously that he loves Christmas because people stay at home and watch television, boosting ratings. Like Scrooge, Christmas doesn't mean much to him these days, but unlike Scrooge, opportunity made him this way.

Think about it: people have likely told you your entire life to take an opportunity once it presents itself. We see Frank in the 1970s working in a dog costume on a kid's television show.

Frank gets the opportunity to have dinner with the president of the network on Christmas Eve, but his girlfriend says they are to have dinner with their friends. Although Frank mentions they should reschedule to the next week, Claire says that they can't because it's Christmas Eve. Sure, Frank acts a little selfish and essentially causes their breakup, but you have to feel a little bit for him. He was living out his dream of working in television and was eyeing bigger and better things for their future together. But no, they couldn't reschedule their dinner.

Going to have to side with Frank on this one.

So we see Frank visited by the other two ghosts: one showing him all the fun or the despair everyone else is living in the present and a glimpse of the future if Frank continues with his humbug-ish ways and negatively influences those around him.

As the movie progressed, I kept coming back to Frank's career. At the end of the film, Frank is so overwhelmed that he essentially renounces his career and spills his debt, gratitude, and messages of love and kindness to the world. From the very minute I saw it in the theater back in 1988 to this viewing tonight, I still feel the ending was shoehorned in. I mean, this movie has a classic plot that they made better with great actors and fantastic quotes, but the ending is kind of terrible.

I got a different message this year, though. It goes back to the old cliche of "Stop and smell the roses." I still feel that Claire could have seen how important it was to go to dinner with the president of the network that night. It wasn't like Frank was going to dinner with the mailman in the Frisbee sketch. But in a way, Claire was right. Work can't take up your entire life. Even though Frank's old boss lived up the good life, he didn't truly live. Even in present day, Claire isn't even truly living until the end of the film. When Frank asks her out to dinner, the volunteers at the homeless shelter keep her there with questions about fuses and turkeys. Way to send out mixed messages, Claire! She finally leaves work when she sees Frank pouring his heart out to the world.

I don't care if you celebrate Christmas. I don't care if you hate this movie. Hell, you can even hate this blog post. Like Frank Cross, though, take away this message: whoever you are, whatever you're doing, take a few minutes to sit back or stand still and appreciate everything and everyone around you. When you really think about it, this whole experience is amazing. Work isn't that important. Take some time and just live.

Then, when you're finished, go have a drink.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 25, 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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