An Underrated Bill Murray Movie Is Trending On Streaming

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

bill murray

In the pantheon of Christmas movies, there are a few all-time classics, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, though against all odds, Bill Murray’s Scrooged is currently enjoying newfound relevancy putting it on par with those all-time greats. The odd take on A Christmas Carol is currently the number nine movie on Amazon Prime, according to streaming tracker site FlixPatrol. The film is an odd outlier in the star’s career, coming in between Ghostbuster films and before his turn to more dramatic acting under Wes Anderson.

Scrooged is a comedic take on the Charles Dickinson classic, set in modern times and following a television president, Frank Cross, played by Bill Murray. During production for a live version of A Christmas Carol, Frank is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas, taking the forms of a taxi driver, a fairy inclined to inflict bodily harm, and the Grim Reaper. Seeing all the ways that he has, is, and will continue to make life miserable for everyone around him, Frank breaks into the live production to publicly declare his newfound outlook on life.

The cast of Scrooged was an all-star lineup of 80s stars, including Karen Allen, Marion Ravenwood from the Indiana Jones films, as Frank’s long-lost love. Carol Kane, from the sitcom Taxi and Annie Hall, played the Ghost of Christmas Present, while comedian Bobcat Goldthwait played Eliot, a fired TV executive. In addition to the main cast were the cameos, notably Lee Majors as Lee Majors, Miles Davis as a street musician, Robert Goulet, Buddy Hackett, and Mary Lou Retton.

Originally released in 1988, Scrooged was Bill Murray’s return to acting following Ghostbusters. The star received a $6 million paycheck for the project and soon after being brought on board, demanded rewrites to the existing script, expanding the romantic subplot and dramatically changing the film’s climax. Director Richard Donner, known for Superman, and Murray reportedly clashed over their visions of what the film should be, with the director struggling to adjust to Murray’s improvisation.

bill murray
Bill Murray in Scrooged

Despite the clash of creative personalities, the film was a moderate success for Bill Murray, finishing its box-office run having made $100 million. Reviews at the time were mixed, with critics calling it overly cynical, a mess, and unlikely to become a Christmas classic. Reviews today from Rotten Tomatoes show a similar mix of 69% approval from critics, with detractors saying that it indulges in Christmas tropes it pretends to lambast while getting too over-the-top and out of hand by the end of the film.

Audiences, as they tend to do, went against the critical opinion and have embraced Scrooged as a modern classic. Bill Murray’s comeback from a four-year break is now viewed regularly during the Holidays, right alongside It’s A Wonderful Life. No amount of negative reviews have stopped the film from being praised by viewers for its cynical take on Christmas marketing as being remarkably forward-thinking, which has allowed the film to stand the test of time and become more relevant with each Holiday season.