Scrooged is a 1988 moderately loose modern retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with the twist of taking place In a World where everyone's already familiar with Dickens' tale. Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross, a cynical, selfish TV executive who is planning a live adaptation ofA Christmas Carol for a holiday special. Cross' own childhood memories of Christmas were less than fond, leaving him initially unable to appreciate the spirit of the season.However things start to go downhill when his dead former boss smashes his way into his office to inform him that he is doomed unless he changes his ways. True to the source material he is visited by the three very strange Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.Intended to ride on Murray's earlier success in Ghostbusters, Scrooged contains many references to the earlier (if largely unrelated) film; one of the taglines was, "Bill Murray is back amongst the ghosts, only this time it's three on one."It's also pretty damn funny, but we shouldn't need to tell you that, right?
This movie contains examples of:
Abusive Parent: Frank's heartless old man, who did not buy the toy train Frank wished for Christmas, telling the kid to find work if he really wanted it, despite the boy being a 4-year-old, then proceeded to mock his young age, likening it to other "excuses" people make when they cannot go to work (like a bad back and hurting leg).
Alien Geometries: The first hallway the Ghost of Christmas Future sends Frank down. Also the room Calvin is kept in.
Bland-Name Product: IBC, the network Frank runs, is directly poking fun at ABC. The promo for IBC's Scrooge says "Yule Love It"; ABC's promotional tagline for their shows in the 1985-1986 season (while the movie was being produced) was "You'll Love It".
Also note that, somehow, IBC is putting on a performance of Scrooge, as opposed to A Christmas Carol.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frank at the end of the movie. On the one hand, he is in a TV studio, he is speaking into an In-Universe camera, and the closest thing to a physical fourth wall is far behind said camera, but on the other hand, he's talking to the Real Life movie audience as opposed to the In-Universe TV audience.
Butt Monkey: Elliot Loudermilk. Fired on Christmas Eve, sells blood for booze money (and the booze gets stolen by the Ghost of Christmas Past), gets robbed as he passes out in an alley, and ends up assaulting Frank with a shotgun in the finale. Also The Woobie.
Ghost of Christmas Present: Oh! What's this...it's a TOASTER! *SMACK*
Cute Mute: Calvin (see Dumb Struck, below), who finds his voice near the end to remind the reformed Cross to say, "God bless us, everyone."
Darker and Edgier: Frank wants to replace the Christmas Carol ad campaign with one that features drug addiction, terrorist attacks, and the threat of nuclear war.
The film itself plays up the Black Comedy possibilities of the story compared to most adaptations. In this version, "Marley" drops Frank off a building, a homeless guy freezes to death, the Ghost of Christmas Future has shrieking demons inside his ribcage, Frank witnesses his love interest become as cynical and miserable as he did, experiences his own cremation instead of merely seeing his grave, and the story caps off with an employee chasing Frank with a shotgun only to be recruited into taking hostages so Frank can deliver a message of holiday cheer. A Charlie Brown Christmas this ain't.
She actually likes it when Frank threatens her with violence if she touches him again.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Played for laughs near the end, when the Standards and Practices woman pounces on a tied up Bryce Cummings and kisses him. It's not rape, but it's definitely assault.
Claire Phillips: Taxi! Can you get me to the IBC building in three minutes?
Ghost of Christmas Past: Which floor?
Drowning My Sorrows: Elliot tries to do this after losing his job, but a Roadside Wave wets the paper bag holding his booze and causes it to fall out. He tries again later, only for the Ghost of Christmas Past to drive by and steal his booze.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Cross is driven to tears when he sees his mother in a vision of one of his first Christmases. The Ghost of Christmas Past had earlier mentioned even "Attila the Hun cried" when he saw his own mother.
Ghost of Christmas Past: Niagara Falls, "Frankie Angel."
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Frank genuinely does love his brother James. He's the only person aside from Claire that he isn't a flat-out jerk to. Nevertheless he keeps his brother at arm's length.
Even Evil Has Standards: Though Frank is a self-centered creep, there were some redeeming factors to him prior to the climax. Before he sees the ghost of Christmas past, he dumps water on a waiter, thinking he was on fire. It was merely an illusion by the ghost to get him outside. The thought counts, though. Afterwards he makes some friends with the homeless people, even singing with them before the big "Bah Humbug parody." Lastly after seeing the Ghost of Christmas Present, he was devastated that one of the homeless men he met was found dead in the sewer he landed in. He even berates the guy for not staying at Operation Reachout where his ex-girlfriend Claire works.
Frank Cross: You moron! You jerk! Why didn't you stay at Claire's? Why didn't you stay with Claire!? She would have taken care of you! You would've eaten! You would've been warm! You might be alive! You'd be a prettier color, I'll tell you that!
At one point he is surprised by the show's Ghost of Christmas Future coming out of the elevator, believing it to be the real one and immediately pushes Grace away in a very rough manner in a misguided attempt to save her from the ghost.
When he sees a future version of Claire, where she's more cold and heartless than Frank ever was, he realizes its his fault.
He's really more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. All the ghosts really do is make him aware of various bad things happening and in practically every case he immediately says he wants to fix it.
He took said cab to a Humanitarian of the Year awards.
Gatling Good: Lee Majors wields a minigun in The Night the Reindeer Died.
Genre Savvy: Frank knows the whole Scrooge thing, he has A Christmas Carol In Prose produced for TV right then. Not that his Genre Savviness helps him, since just because he can call it before it happens doesn't mean he can do anything to avoid it.
Roadside Wave: Elliot Loudermilk gets an impromptu bath, which simultaneously ruins the liquor he was hoping to drown his sorrows in.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Elliot Loudermilk's M.O. on Frank just before the visit with the Ghost of Christmas Future. One epiphany later, Frank joins him in derailing the live show going on downstairs.
The Ghost Of Christmas Present describes Grace's son's inability to speak as a result of seeing his father died, and that he "Drifted away, like Sleeping Beauty." Carol Kane played one of the good fairies in the Faerie Tale Theatre rendition of Sleeping Beauty, so this is also an Actor Allusion.
Smug Snake: Bryce Cummings, the slimy West-Coast producer called in to "assist" (read: take over from) Frank.
Toilet Seat Divorce: What we see of Frank and Claire's original split comes off like this. While presumably there were problems before that, we go right from seeing them both quite happy, to her dumping him because the President of the network invited them both to dinner (something that could massively advance his career) and it would have meant canceling a dinner with friends.
Except even there, Frank is shown to be really rather selfish and egocentric. Granted, it's a big opportunity for him, but the way he talks down to her over something they've had planned for months, apparently, is rather blatant foreshadowing that he no longer really sees the point of Christmas and is more interested in what television can do for him.
Tranquil Fury: Frank, after hearing future Claire's Meaningful Echo of his own words. Uniquely, the rage is directed fully inward at himself, and all he can manage is a broken, whispered apology for turning her into someone just as cold and heartless as he is.