Every year watching Scrooged makes it finally feel like Christmas for me, even more so than having to lug a massive tree into the house only to have the dog wee on it.
For those of you who don’t already know; Scrooged sees Bill Murray play Frank Cross. Frank is the career obsessed head of a TV station. As Scrooged is an 80’s retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol you will be unsurprised to learn that Frank is visited by four ghosts (Marley plus the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future).
Throughout Frank’s journey to accepting Christmas he shows attitudes towards the holiday season that we all occasionally share. Below I’m going to take you through the stages of Frank’s growth and show how they reflect how our own outlook towards Christmas changes throughout the season.
Stage 1: the adverts wear us down
One of Frank’s establishing moments has him terrify his heads of department before showing them his advert for the station’s Christmas Special. The advert is a hilariously over the top use of fear to sell a Christmas show. For those of you who haven’t seen (or can’t remember) the advert, here it is:
Okay, that’s ridiculous, but now look at this John Lewis Christmas advert:
That penguin may be cute, but the toy version of it costs £95. Just as Frank Cross’s advert uses fear to manipulate people, the John Lewis advert utilises mawkish sentimentality to put pressure on parents to buy their kids a grossly overpriced cuddly toy. I’m sure most of us get a little tired of the way companies are rewarded for being manipulative, and it’s great to see their attitude towards Christmas skewered in a film.
Frank’s commercial outlook to the holiday has robbed him of the warmth necessary to make life enjoyable. These adverts can also take away some of our Christmas spirit. It’s like an accountant has rummaged through your favourite Christmas memories and put a little price tag on all the toys.
Stage 2: resenting the effort you’re expected to put in
Frank Cross is a bastard at the start of Scrooged, in fact he’s a bastard for most of Scrooged. This is made clear by his actions, which include:
- Firing a guy on Christmas Eve
- Suggesting stapling antlers to a mouse’s head
- Shouting at volunteers working in a homeless centre
- Making no time for his family
The sad thing is most of us can empathise with him a little more than we would like to admit. Sure, Christmas is a great time but the run up to it can be horrible. We work longer hours so that we can relax when we get home. We have to fight through crowds to get Christmas presents, all the while surrounded by sick people who are coughing and sneezing everywhere.So when Frank rejects Christmas our laughs are tinged with guilt as we see more of ourselves in Frank than we would like to admit.
Stage 3: we begin to notice the less fortunate (finally)
Scrooged shows people getting fired, some unhappy homes, mental illness and a homeless man dying alone. Gritty material for a Christmas movie.
This is important because this time of year is a tough time for many people, even if most of us are too focussed on ourselves to notice. Seriously, read the dross I wrote above about having to work late and buying presents. What sort of clown thinks that’s an issue when every day he walks past homeless people in one of the richest countries in the world?
My only saving grace is that I’m not the only self-centred person at Christmas. A lot of us find it too easy to forget how hard others have it at this time of year.
This is shown in Scrooged when Frank finds a homeless man who has frozen to death. One of Frank’s first reactions is actually to get angry with the guy for not getting himself somewhere warm. This may seem harsh but I’m sure many people feel momentary flashes of anger when someone’s unhappiness intrudes on their Christmas. It’s the part of you which wants to tell homeless people to get a job, as if the guy mumbling into his can of Special Brew at 9am is going to interview particularly well. After all, it is easier to feel condescending anger than it is to feel guilt about how little we do for the less fortunate.
Like Frank, who gradually notices the suffering of others, we will at some point feel pangs of guilt when we realise how selfish we have been thinking about our own non-problems when countless others are having a tough time all around us.
Stage 4: we wonder if we can be better
That Scrooged confronts the darker side of Christmas and does it without being preachy is impressive. It also makes an otherwise saccharine ending much more palatable. Sure, there are some Christmas miracle clichés involved but Frank’s key realisation is one we all have every Christmas (or at least after we’ve had a few drinks).
This realisation is that it’s not too late to become the people we want to be. The type of people who spend enough time with their families, who are more positive in their outlook, who think about others and do their best to help the less fortunate. Ultimately it’s hard to argue with the point that if we started acting how we know we should act then perhaps the world would be in a better state by next Christmas.
The video below links to that scene, so obviously it’s a bit of a spoiler. That said, if you don’t know how a Christmas Carol ends then you should be reading things other than this odd little post.
As a normal film, it gets 4/5 stars but as a Christmas movie it gets 5/5 (obviously). Scrooged is available on Netflix and Stranger Views is full of Netflix film reviews. . You can find all of our movie reviews and posts here. If you don’t have Netflix, get it from Amazon.
Thanks for reading this post, and if you’d like to tell me where I’ve gone wrong or how I should stop reading so much into comedies the comments section is below.
This will be my last post on Stranger Views before Christmas and I just wanted to express my gratitude to all of you who have taken the time to visit the site, read our stuff and occasionally even commented and shared it. So thanks to you, and have a great Christmas.