Every age gets the version of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" that it deserves, and the crass, tacky 1980s got "Scrooged," a loud, overstuffed, manic comedy version that turned Dickens crotchety miser into a slick, callous, vulgar young TV executive played by Bill Murray. The movie opened 25 years ago this week, on November 23, 1988.
The production's ironies -- hiring "Lethal Weapon" director Richard Donner to make a movie about how pandering and sensationalistic TV is, and spending $32 million (a lot of money for a Hollywood budget back then) on a lavish spectacle whose message to viewers is that they should be more charitable -- were apparently lost on everyone, including the audience, who made it one of the biggest hits of 1988 and have kept the film a holiday staple on TV and home video ever since.
A quarter century later, it's a lot easier to look at "Scrooged" out of context and simply enjoy it for Murray's slyly subversive performance. (Indeed, his Frank Cross seems a lot more fun before the three ghosts literally beat the conversion into him.) It's no wonder that Murray continued to prosper after "Scrooged," as did most (but not all) of his co-stars. Here's what the Ghost of Christmas Future might have revealed was in store for them over the past 25 years.