For my last Christmas film for this year, I’ve picked out a film that I can say is a consistently good holiday film. I am fully aware that this is essentially a modernized spin on A Christmas Carol (which, to be fair, would have been quite rare back then compared to now), which is extremely familiar, but around Christmas time that’s not exactly a huge concern.
The film sees former Ghostbuster Bill Murray playing the role of Frank Cross, the meanest, crudest, most arrogant television executive out there. He’ll do just about anything to boost ratings for his network, including mounting a bizarre range of Christmas programmes, and advertising a live performance of A Christmas Carol using a shock ad campaign. He also forces his employees to work on the live production, meaning that he has to work right through Christmas Eve.
At that point, he’s visited by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, all of them modernised and given a surreal twist, but the rest of the plot is pretty familiar. It’s essentially A Christmas Carol set in the high-flying corporate culture of the late 1980’s, and it works mainly because the film had good writers behind it. Personally, I think it’s one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol out there, primarily because it delivers the tale in a more contemporary style, while still trying to make it into an original film.
It also helps that Bill Murray is such a hilarious character in this film. He’s great in various other films, including Ghostbusters and Stripes, and he’s great here too. He always seems to deliver his lines with just the right timing and deadpan wit. It seems as though the script is sort of meant for him. The side characters work well alongside him, with an effective chemistry that results in laugh after laugh.
The film certainly presents itself in a contemporary style, almost similar in tone to Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, and later Batman, and I say this primarily because the film was scored by Danny Elfman (who would go on to compose for Tim Burton’s most popular films). It definitely has the whole Christmas vibe going for it, as I would expect. I’ll admit that the film does sound a little bit dated, but it has a lot of charm left over, certainly more than today’s holiday flicks, and it holds up a lot better than many critics would give it credit for. The film also uses its fair share of special effects, and it uses them well in the scenes involving the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, which took a rather surreal turn to say the least.
All in all, I’d say this is certainly one of my favourite Christmas films. I’m definitely willing to watch it again year after year (and it always shows up rather conveniently on TV listings at around this time), and that’s because it’s consistently entertaining. Though it’s not necessarily a classic (it’s definitely close to it though), few Christmas films have that much staying power.
- Score: 82%
- Grade: B