Retro Review: Scrooged (1988)

I couldn’t let Christmas go out on such a depressing note as that last post–so I stayed up late to watch Scrooged.  Totally worth it.

It must be twenty years, maybe more, since I last watched this, and I’m honestly not sure I ever saw it all the way through. I think as a kid I never got past the dry, rotting corpse of Lew Hayward. Now, older and wiser, I think it’s a film that takes a certain maturity to appreciate (despite Bill Murray’s awesome brand of slapsticky satire).


Surely you know the story. Murray is Frank Cross, a television exec at the IBC network. His only concern is ratings, to the extent that he has alienated all the people who might have cared about him. It’s all a glitzy ’80s version of A Christmas Carol, and it’s fantastic. It’s the perfect combination of sappy feel-good schmaltz and classic Second City-style humor, with a nice Christmas sheen.


The performances are all great, the jokes still hold up, and the ending, corny as it is, makes it a perfect holiday film. And Murray was really ahead of his time, delivering jokes with a speed and stream-of-thought style that would fit in any contemporary sitcom. I love this movie, and if you’re looking for something to watch this year that isn’t Star Wars, this would be a good choice.


Christmas Wishes


The fuzzy white blob in the tree is a little owl. Courtesy of mi madre.

Here in Japan we’re well into Christmas Eve, and this isn’t precisely the Christmas I would have wanted: we have a tiny dollar-store tree, a handful of decorations (also from the dollar store), and now that Christmas dinner is done there’s not much more to do. My lady friend has already fallen asleep, so I’m sitting here with my wine wondering what comes next. And in my thirty-three years, despite all the traveling I’ve done, I’ve never missed a Christmas with my family until now, so I’m feeling more than a little blue about it.

I’m not a religious person (read: 100% agnostic), but as any folklorist will tell you, no two people engage with tradition in exactly the same way. That fact doesn’t devalue the tradition at all: it just helps it to be relevant to everyone who cares to participate in it. So while I can smugly (and correctly) say that there wasn’t a “Christ” in Christmas until Christians decided to put him there, long after the fact, I’m also happy to make room for their interpretations of the holiday (as long as they don’t breed intolerance, anyway). What really matters for me is taking time to enjoy the season, your loved ones, and some really good food.

So I and my wine will do our best to enjoy the evening together. While it’s all a bit melancholy, I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and those yet to come. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, however you may choose to observe (or not observe) it.