Technically I already reviewed this movie in my Christmas Carol section. But I don't care, this one stands apart from all the others. In what way? 2 words: Bill Murray. How can you not be drawn in to this? He's one of the funniest people alive! Just hearing the name puts a slight smile on my face. Apart from that, this is also a much darker version and the things that made you sad in the other versions make you downright depressed in this version. But at the same time, those things that made you smile in the other versions also makes you smile even more in this one. This is a much more engaging version of the story. You know how in my Small One review, I said that Don Bluth had a knack for making people cry their eyes out but still made them feel satisfied with a happy ending? Same basic principle here. Though like I said, it's a bit more intense. In the other versions, Scrooge's father was distant from him because his mother died giving birth to him, and merely looking at him caused his father to feel sadness at the loss of his beloved wife. In this version, the mother is still alive, but the father is a downright ass. Apparently, he's a butcher who thinks that all kids should be working from day 1, as is shown when he gives his son a hard time for not having a job despite the fact that he's four. Getting a job at four! In other versions, Tiny Tim was a crippled and sickly child who might possibly die because he wasn't getting the care and treatment that was needed. In this version, he's scarred for life after the death of his father and even goes crazy in the future. When Murray is visited by the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, it is shown that the character ends up in a mental institution with bandages on all four limbs. Damn! Somehow, seeing a child in a padded cell gets to me more than seeing his parents standing on his grave. I don't know why, my priorities must be messed up. But just like with Don Bluth movies, we are treated to a happy ending filled with laughs. I might need to go into therapy after experiencing this many emotions in so little time.
There are other examples of this version taking more of a creative license, especially when it comes to the way the ghosts are portrayed. Past and Present are almost polar opposites of what they were like in other versions, and Marley is a freaking zombie in this version. I think it was pretty clever and pretty brave at the same time for the filmakers to go that direction.
Also, I think it should be pointed out that this was directed by Richard Donner. Who is that you ask? Well, apart from directing The Omen, Superman, The Goonies as well as all of the Lethal Weapon movies (which is like a less-awesome but still pretty awesome buddy cop version of Die Hard), he's nobody. Wow, he goes from religious horror to comic book heroes to action-comedy to comedy and then kid-adventure movie. Talk about range. So yeah, that's a pretty big fact that deserves mentioning.
What more needs to be said? It's an unconventional take on a classic story with unconventional characters, unconventional humor and one of the most unconventional comedians of all time. At least the characters he plays are unconventional, I don't know about him personally.
Final Grade: A-, I loved it, but there were parts that got to me a lot more than a Christmas special should.
So those are my choices of Christmas specials to review. There were others that I was going to review, like The Santa Clause or those Rankin-Bass stop-motion cartoons based off of classic songs. I was going to include these, but then people told me that they were expecting me to review those, so I decided to do the sensible thing and let them down.
Starting December 1st, I'm going to do a month of heroism, where each day, I pay tribute to the best and most iconic heroes from movies, literature, and history.