Bill Murray is at his comedic best in Richard Donner’s 1988 updated take on Charles Dicken’s ghostly tale of redemption, Scrooged. Paramount has finally brought the film to Blu-ray with a great high-definition transfer that looks great and sounds even better, giving Murray’s stinging one-liners and Danny Elfman’s fantastic score a real boost. With razor-sharp wit and a great cast of superstars leading the way, fans of dark humor and twisted Christmas tales are bound to enjoy the zaniness on full display here in one of the most underrated comedies of the 1980s home, and not much else.
Bill Murray is Francis Xavier Cross, a ruthless television programming executive that only cares about ratings, no matter the cost. Of course this results in him treating his employees, as well as other people like dirt. From making his assistant work long hours before Christmas, to letting a bum turn into an ice popsicle after having multiple chances to help, Cross is truly one mean “Scrooge” of a guy. A ghostly visit from his deceased boss heralds a terrible message: change your ways, or end up just like him. He’s to be visited by the three cameo-laden ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, which sets up a uniquely 1980s take on Dicken’s timeless tale of last-minute redemption, and when you factor in Murray’s famous biting wit and deadpan humor, the result is a match in cynical heaven.
Helping him along the way is an incredible cast consisting of great 80s-era superstars, including Karen Allen, Carol Kane, Bobcat Goldthwait, Robert Mitchum, Alfre Woodard, and David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) as the taxi cab driving ghost of Christmas Past, whom I really enjoyed here.
The film still holds up after all these years and looks great on Blu-ray, and Paramount did a really good job cleaning up the picture to the point you’d think it was made in the late 90’s rather than the late 80’s. All of the zany special effects such as the ghost of Christmas future having souls stuck inside him, to the freaky look of Cross’ zombie-like dead boss, show up wonderfully here. The 5.1 DTS-HD sound keeps things lively too, as every note of Danny Elfman’s haunting score, to Bill Murray’s stinging quips comes in loud and clear.
Unfortunately, it seems that Paramount is playing Scrooge themselves with the extras, as besides showing the original trailer in HD, there are no special features here. This is really disappointing, especially as a 2006 “Yule Love It!” Edition was set to be released and was supposed to have a lot of extras, but never happened. Those could have easily been placed on here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a double-dip edition is somewhere around the corner with these missing features.
Scrooged may not be the most accurate take on Dicken’s timeless classic, but Richard Donner leads an outstanding cast in one of the most twisted and hilarious Christmas fables ever made, especially with Bill Murray leading the charge. He’s just about perfect here, and playing an evil Christmas-hating television exec seems tailor made for his special brand of comedy. Paramount did a great job in bringing their 80s classic up to high-definition standards, as the picture and sound quality has never been better, though the lack of any real extras or special features might have fans saying “hum-bug”. Those looking to add a true Bill Murray classic to their library could certainly do worse than sharing this barebones Blu-ray release for the holidays, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fuller version in the future.
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