Bill Murray, particularly in the early parts of his career, was at his best when he was being sneery, sardonic and cruel. And Scrooged, truth be told, is not a great movie.
As it hits the second half as Murray has to go through his Ebeneezer Scrooge redemption, it runs out of juice quite quickly, even with that nutter out of Police Academy running around.
But the first half? Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. The only festive film to come close to capturing Murray’s vitriol since was the Billy Bob Thornton movie Bad Santa, but even that’s not in the same league.
The first half of Scrooged is one of Murray’s finest comedy performances, where he’s given free reign to be as cutting as he likes. Moving the Scrooge story into an American television network’s offices, Murray is the head honcho presiding over an epic telling of the Christmas Carol story due to go out on Christmas Eve. His trailers are genius, his staff hate him, and the lines cut like the kind of knives that Ikea aren’t allowed to sell.
Antlers won’t fit on the mouse? “Did you try staples?”, suggests Murray.
When sorting out the Christmas gifts for his PA? “Grace, put yourself down for a towel too?”. “What about my bonus?”. “Towel and a facecloth”.
And what about the trailer for the action Santa movie starring Lee Majors at the start? We’d put money down to watch that right now.
The problem, of course, with adaptations of A Christmas Carol is that redemption is part of the story, and Murray’s character as the nice guy – even trying to orchestrate the audience to sing over the end credits – simply doesn’t work as well.
But the first half is gold, and that’s what gets it over the line here. Murray’s never been as nasty since…