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_Ms._Scrooge_ is a remake of Charles Dickens' _A_Christmas_Carol_. If
you are tired of Scrooge as a crotchety old English guy, you can now see the
same story modernized with an elderly black woman playing Scrooge. The
adaption is well done, and the contrast with the original story is part of
Cicely Tyson plays Scrooge. I first noticed her years ago in the movie _Autobiograpy_of_Miss_Jane_Pittman_. That award-winning movie and _Ms._Scrooge_ together make an interesting set. In both, Cicely is shown at different times of her life to develop a personal history of how she became who she is now. While the _Autobiography_ is a better movie, _Ms._Scrooge_ is still very good.
The supporting cast does an excellent job. Perhaps Katherine Helmund goes over the top as Maude Marley, and she appears to be enjoying her state more than one would think a lost soul should. Still, she effectively sets the stage for what Scrooge is yet to experience. Julian Richings is totally eery as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Roles where actors don't speak have got to be hard to play, but Julian finds the way.
The premise of an African-American female Scrooge in the modern, struggling city was inspired, but nothing else in this film is. Here, Ms. Scrooge is a miserly banker who takes advantage of the employees and customers in the largely poor and black neighborhood it inhabits. There is no doubt about the good intentions of the people involved. Part of the problem is that story's roots don't translate well into the urban setting of this film, and the script fails to make the update work. Also, the constant message about sharing and giving is repeated so endlessly, the audience becomes tired of it well before the movie reaches its familiar end. This is a message film that doesn't know when to quit. In the title role, the talented Cicely Tyson gives an overly uptight performance, and at times lines are difficult to understand. The Charles Dickens novel has been adapted so many times, it's a struggle to adapt it in a way that makes it fresh and relevant, in spite of its very relevant message.
It amazes me how many ways a simple story like Dicken's "A Christmas
Carol" can be interpreted. We have the pleasure of watching Cicely
Tyson (Idlewild, A Lesson Before Dying) in another strong role.
John Korty, who directed Ms. Tyson in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, again directs her as Ms. Ebenita Scrooge. Veteran writer John McGreevey interprets the familiar tale.
Katherine Helmond ("Soap", "Whose the Boss") was funny as Marley, and Michael Beach ("Third Watch", Short Cuts) was super as her nephew.
It was a different twist on a familiar story, told from an African-American perspective, and it really warmed the heart.
Of course, you all know how it ends.
Too many tragedies and disappointments made Ms. Scrooge start to build
walls. She wasn't born that way. In fact, at the start of the show, she
was very open and giving. As the spirits review her life, you share both
the joys and sadness that have come her way--and feel sad at the way
will turn out if she doesn't change. The final scene will be sure to get
you even if nothing else gets to you first--and I can assure you that
you'll, more likely than not, be "gotten to" and will be reaching for the
tissues long before then!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This Toronto-filmed production first aired back in the Nineties, when
heaps upon heaps of these made-for-TV movies were always being
released. Kids loved them, and though many adults complained and whined
that they were too cheesy, I think secretly they adored them, too.
If not for the story in and of itself (because okay, let's face it, this tired old Dickens tale has been done the world over), I found the acting excellent. Cicely Tyson is amazing in her role as a modern Scrooge, at first being the villain you love to hate but then showing that all the hardships in her life have left her hurt and lonely more than anything else. Katherine Helmond makes a spooky albeit somewhat unmemorable entrance, and William Greenblatt does very well in his obligatory cute sick kid role. I thought Michael Beach especially did an excellent job as Reverend Luke, a man of God who is fed-up with his "Auntie Ebenita" but tries to see her good side time and time again. His monologue sermon of what hell and heaven are really like? It resonated with me when I was a kid and still does today, and I'm not even religious! And my favourite actor of all-time, British-Canadian character actor Julian Richings, completely steals the show as the forlorn, mute ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. I loved the soundtrack and urban scenery too, and I'm glad that even though it's not too popular, a good copy of this one isn't too hard to find.
This is a well done version of The Christmas Carol. Giving a more
modern taste to the setting and characters. I like that Scrooge has
become a black woman, showing that not every tightfisted miser must be
the typical old white guy. Ms.Tyson is excellent as a 20th century
Scrooge. Michael Beach is also very good as her nephew and Reverend of
the neighborhood. Katherine Helmond as Marley is over the top fun, I
would have like to have seen more of her as a ghost.
One complaint is that the director didn't pull more emotions from some of the actors. With a few exceptions, much of the time people were in the middle of the road emotionally. Afraid to be too joyous or too desperately downtrodden. But overall a nice holiday movie to add to the season.
My wife is a huge fan of the Holiday Movies shown in Lifetime and Hallmark Networks. The a typical Christmas love story, chick heavy genre of Single Mom and sir Galahad wandering into town and sweeping the woman off her feet. This movie does a 360 degree turn in a different direction. I've seen most of the Scrooge movies made with Alistar Sims as the benchmark for excellence in that particular role. This one is the extreme antithesis of that classic movie. Even the animated Mister Magoo rates much higher on the Scrooge movie charts over this abomination of that Dicken's tale. Cycely Tyson's work in TV and movies to this point is regarded as respectable as a talented and versatile actor. This production is not Miss Jane Pittman. More like Miss handled Christmas story. Some might say by watching this movie that it borders on being racist. The only positive aspect of this wannabee movie is the acting of Katherine Hellman as Maude Marley. Slim pickings that year in dramas on Television as this movie was nominated for the Online & Television Association award. Great casting of the Crachit children (The Greenblatt Kids)? I wish I was around for the re-write with John Corty and the final teleplay with John McGreevy I would have suggested the following. Put in a laugh track and second have the final scene where Samuel Jackson comes to her home with pistil in hand quoting Ezekiel 25.17. I totally lost my composure when you see Ebenita ironing greenbacks during the late hours. I explain to people that this movie exists but they think I'm putting them on.
Honestly, I can't believe this movie received money from backers to
even be made.
The acting was abysmal. The editing was atrocious! The directing was lacking.
The story was ridiculous. The fact that they modernized this story wasn't an issue, others have done that very successfully. But why did they feel the need to turn Scrooge into a black woman? What purpose did that serve. I don't have an issue with that, but they didn't pull it off well at all. It was a poorly made statement that served no purpose to the story.
What a complete laugh. Absolutely horrible, not that I expected anything of higher quality from the Hallmark channel.
Don't waste your time.
...but this has to be the worst A Christmas Carol adaptation of all
time. And that takes some doing, what with the likes of various
Lifetime efforts. Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against Cicely
Tyson. I've enjoyed her tremendously in other roles (look at Sipsey in
Fried Green Tomatoes, for example). But the script gives her no option
but to chew the scenery. And chew it she does, with all the enthusiasm
of Tiny Tim tying into a Christmas goose.
Give me the classics anytime: Alastair Sim, 1951. With the exception maybe of Scrooged, all the others are just over-the-top efforts to grasp the past, present, or future Spirit of Christmas.
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