"Oh, my gosh. Does that suck?" - FRANK XAVIER CROSS, a man who knows how to inspire confidence in his underlings
If there is a holiday story that has been brought to the screen (both big and small) more often than Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (either in its original form or one that has been modernized, reimagined or otherwise parodied), I don't know what it is. The '80s alone brought us Mickey's Christmas Carol (with Uncle Scrooge in the role he was born to play), a well-regarded made-for-TV version starring George C. Scott (one of several made that decade, in fact), and Blackadder's Christmas Carol, not to mention various television shows and specials. I fondly recall an episode of George Burns Comedy Week from 1985 entitled "Christmas Carol II: The Sequel" in which we find out that Bob Cratchit (Roddy McDowall), Mrs. Cratchit (Samantha Eggar), a very grown-up Tiny Timothy (Ed Begley Jr.) and others have been taking awful advantage of Ebenezer Scrooge (James Whitmore) since his change of heart, prompting the three ghosts to pay him a return visit and show him how to find the middle ground between being a heartless miser and letting everyone walk all over him. In fact, A Christmas Carol parodies are so ingrained in the culture at this point that they don't even need to be tied specifically to the holidays, as seen in last year's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and 2008's liberal-bashing An American Carol. And this doesn't even take into account all of the stage and radio productions, some of which have taken their own liberties with the story, so finding a new slant on it can be a pretty tall order. (Has somebody done a version that takes place in space yet? If not, they probably will now.)
Which brings us to the final entry in our year-long series, which appropriately enough is centered around Scrooged, the 1988 fantasy-comedy that somehow got sidetracked on its way to becoming a perennial holiday classic. Oh sure, it still shows up on television year in and year out (most Christmas movies do, regardless of their age or quality), but you won't find any channel airing it for 24 hours straight the way TBS does with A Christmas Story (a tradition going back 14 straight years), and it certainly isn't accorded the respect that It's a Wonderful Life's twice-yearly airings earn it (a far cry from its near-ubiquity back in the '80s before its copyright was reasserted). Regardless, it's about the only Christmas film that gets to me on a gut level in spite of the cloying sentimentality that periodically threatens to overwhelm the whole enterprise. Not that I want to be a total Scrooge about it, but this is one film that works a whole lot better when it isn't forcibly ramming holiday cheer down people's throats. And it could use a little less slapstick. Check, make that a lot less slapstick.