Frank Cross runs a US TV station which is planning a live adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Frank's childhood wasn't a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn't really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Frank realises he must change. Written by
Upon entering the office Christmas party in 1968, the Ghost and Frank walk into the room. Despite being invisible to the guests, a woman in a brown dress clearly looks right at them as they move toward her. See more »
Starts well, gets a bit sentimental but Murray carries it
Francis Cross is a successful TV executive but at Christmas time he is about as miserable a man as you could wish to meet. Forcing people to work over the holidays and unwilling to think of anyone but himself. As Christmas Eve approaches Francis is visited by his dead boss, warning him to change his ways; when he doesn't he is visited by three ghosts who show him Christmas in the past, present and future.
Each year there are plenty of versions of the classic Christmas Carol story, but this film is consistently one of the better ones. It starts with a great dark comedy that sees some very imaginative gags (The Night The Reindeer Died) as well as Murray given great material. At some point (roughly ghost 2), sentimentality starts to set in and the film doesn't quite have the edge on it that it did. It still works - in fact, ghost 3 is not so much sentimental as really dramatic!
What holds it all together though is a great performance from Murray. He is funny throughout but also does the work to try and hold off the sentimentality of the piece - although it does come through, as one would expect with a Christmas movie! The support cast is good and includes Woodard, Goldthwait, Goulet, Farr and Mitchum. I didn't feel like Kane's Christmas Present really worked and didn't find her funny in the least. While the support cast add to the film, it is almost totally belonging to Bill Murray and the fact that it is so enjoyable is mostly due to him (although not even he can carry off the audience interaction over the end credits).
Overall this is a good Christmas movie - it does give you a nice little festive glow but also has enough cynical edge to keep the syrup at bay for a certain amount of the time. Regardless of everything else, Bill Murray is great in the lead and holds the movie together better than someone else may have been able to.
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