Scrooged (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Scrooged (1988)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A darkly comic and surreal contemporization of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, this effects-heavy Bill Murray holiday vehicle from 1988 sees the former SNL funnyman assuming the role of television executive Frank Cross, the meanest and most depraved man on earth. Cross will stoop to unheard of levels to increase his network's ratings -- even if it means mounting outrageous programs to retain an audience, such as "Robert Goulet's Cajun Christmas" and Lee Majors in "The Night the Reindeer Died," with an AK-47-toting Santa. Cross plots his foulest move, however, for the Christmas holiday, when he will force his office staff to mount a live production of A Christmas Carol on national television -- and thus work through Christmas Eve. Cross's life is turned upside down with visits from three ghosts: a craggy-faced cabbie known as The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen); the sugar-plum fairy Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) (who gets her jollies by bonking Frank across the face with a toaster oven); and, eventually, the caped, headless Ghost of Christmas Future, who will send Frank sliding into a crematory oven -- just before he gives the sleazoid one last chance to redeem himself. Along the way, the spirits carry Frank to scenes from his past, present, and future (per Scrooge) and impart a glimpse of how he became so thoroughly rotten. The radiant Karen Allen co-stars as Frank's girlfriend, Claire Phillips, and the film packs in cameos from countless celebrities -- among them, Mary Lou Retton, John Houseman, Jamie Farr, and, in a truly grisly and tasteless bit, John Forsythe. Richard Donner directs, from a script credited to the late Michael O'Donoghue and Mitch Glazer. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Mitch Glazer, Michael O'Donoghue, Mitch Glazer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 9, 1999
Paramount Pictures


Bill Murray
as Frank Cross
David Johansen
as Christmas Past
Carol Kane
as Christmas Present
Nicholas Phillips
as Calvin Cooley
Alfre Woodard
as Grace Cooley
Mabel King
as Gramma
John Murray
as James Cross
Jamie Farr
as Himself
Lee Majors
as Himself
Pat McCormick
as Ghost of Christmas P...
Regina King
as Lanell Cooley
June Chandler
as June Cleaver
Sanford Jensen
as Executive
Jeffrey Joseph
as Executive
Dick Blasucci
as Executive
Peter Bromilow
as Archbishop
Bill Marcus
as IBC Guard
Cal Gibson
as IBC Guard
Damon Hines
as Steven Cooley
Paul Tuerpé
as Stage Manager
Lester Wilson
as Choreographer
Jack McGee
as Carpenter
Bill Hart
as Carpenter
Kathy Kinney
as IBC Nurse
Alvin Hammer
as Foreman
Tony Steedman
as Headwaiter
Lisa Mende
as Doris Cross
Ryan Todd
as Frank as Child
Selma Archerd
as Mrs. Claus at Party
Jay Byron
as Man #1 at Party
Harvey Fisher
as Party Guest
Roy Brocksmith
as Mike the Mailman
Stella Hall
as Lew Haywards Secreta...
Anne Ramsey
as Woman in Shelter
Logan Ramsey
as Man in Shelter
Maria Riva
as Mrs. Rhinelander
Raphael Harris
as Older Calvin
Dick McGarvin
as Announcer
Stephen Kahan
as Technician
Norman D. Wilson
as Technician
Henry Brown
as Technician
Jeanine Jackson
as Technician
Amy Hill
as Technician
Miles Davis
as Street Musician
Larry Carlton
as Street Musician
David Sanborn
as Street Musician
Paul Shaffer
as Street Musician
Harvey Fisher
as Party Guest
Wendie Malick
as Wendie Cross
David Sanborn
as Street Musician
Norm Wilson
as Technician
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Scrooged

Critic Reviews for Scrooged

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (8)

Despite the juicy, on-the-edge craziness, Murray is able to layer his outrageous histrionics with an inner sensibility, making his ultimate transformation not only believable but Christmas-cheer uplifting.

Full Review… | April 7, 2015
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Tacky in the extreme, this self-congratulatory 1988 film is an exercise in hypocrisy, indulging every form of Christmas exploitation that it pretends to attack, and many of the laughs are forced.

Full Review… | November 27, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

An appallingly unfunny comedy, and a vivid illustration of the fact that money can't buy you laughs.

Full Review… | November 27, 2007
Top Critic

Rowdy stuff for the light in head.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

In spite of the jokes at the expense of television-network censors, there's very little in the film, aside from naughty words, that wouldn't be perfectly acceptable on prime-time television.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

It's got Bill Murray, and that's always a good thing.

Full Review… | November 4, 2011
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Scrooged


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

"Scrooged is by far one of my favorite Christmas flicks. Yes I know were in Februrary and Christmas has come and gone, but I couldn't resist watching it when I saw it on Netflix streaming. Plus it was about 4 in the morning and I had nothing better to do. I love Bill Murray. He is one of my favorite comedy actors. He has perfect timing with his lines. Carol Kane is my favorite ghost, that being the ghost of Christmas Present. She made me laugh the most. She and Murray were great together.
The movie is a lot of fun and you can't come away not feeling a bit happy after watching it. It's too much fun. Watch it if you get the chance. Who cares if it's Christmas or not. I can watch this anytime."


Super Reviewer


I can't believe this was made in 88! my god that's a long time ago and I remember when it came out haha!. We all know the plot here I should think, the classic Dickens tale revamped and 'modified' for the modern era...well the 80's.

Straight of the bat this is a classic film based around a classic tale. Like the 'Muppet Christmas Carol' its one of the best versions of Dickens fable around and really gets you in the Xmas spirit. I always loved the title for a start, such a simple idea yet really original in the way its been slightly tweaked.

I never knew that Danny Elfman did the musical score for this either, as I watched this again recently and the film started you hear this typical Elfman score, 'Batman Returns/Beetlejuice' type of thing. You know what I mean...that kind of spooky, gothic, halloween-ish tune accompanied by a young choir to give that crispy old English Xmas atmosphere. These days that typical Elfman score is a bit samey I'll admit but it always works.

The film is so so dated now but you gotta love that 80's look n feel right?. The old 'Gordon Gecko' style high flying business corporate world with its glossy offices, greasy suits and large plastic looking technology hehe. Murray is the perfect cast for this concept, the film was made for him (probably was) as he uses his dead pan, wry, dry stinging humour to really create a sleazy, immoral, disreputable, executive suit wearing Scrooge.

Of course he's not called Scrooge here, the whole film doesn't really mention or use any wording that refers to the old tale (well if you don't count the in-movie plot). This is merely a clever little recreation using the basic story but setting it in the business world. Whats really great is the effects and general visuals still hold up today, they aren't hugely over done effects but simply utilizing makeup and the odd bluescreen. The three main ghosts really add to the film with their performances. 'The Ghost of Christmas Past' (Johansen) easily being the best for me as a dirty, grumpy, pug ugly NY cab driver who shouts abuse at other road users, smokes, probably drinks and generally acts as if he's just sobering up.

'The Ghost of Christmas Present' (Kane) is close behind with her fantastic performance as a sort of bitchy, spoilt, pixie sized fairy with violent tendencies. Despite her delicate appearance in a kind of little girls halloween pink fairy costume complete with tiny wings and lots of sparkly glitter, she acts like a bully. The swing from softly spoken fairy to a swift kick in the balls is quite amusing if childish.

'The Ghost of Christmas Future' is a nice bit of visualisation and simple effects. A large 'man in a suit' approach with some puppet work and a TV screen for a face, to make him seem more modernised I guess. Didn't really see enough of this guy I reckon and he could of been a bit more creepy really, but the sequence where his large hooded face looms up behind 'Frank' across his multiple TV screens is brilliantly done. There he looked good.

The best ghost visually is probably 'Lew Hayward' who is 'Frank's' old boss who comes back to warn him of his pending situation. A great bit of makeup and prosthetic work which really does look real haha loved his snapping arm moment complete with plumes of dry dusty decomposition.

Alongside many other quirky characters there is Glover as 'Brice Cummings' who epitomises the image of an 80's office type and complete arse kissing suck up, love it!. You know he afters 'Frank's' job and that makes him such a good character.

The end to the film does get a bit too vomit inducing for me, never really liked how it all gets so mushy  and almost turns into a 'behind the scenes' piece. 'Frank' breaks the fourth wall in the end and it kinda spoils the film even though its a unique thing to do in a major movie. Up to the very end the film is really enjoyable and chock full of spine tingling atmosphere with great performances, its just a shame the finale goes off my opinion.

'Yule love it!'

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Scrooged Quotes

– Submitted by Matthew D (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Daniel R (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Daniel R (3 years ago)

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