American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Scrooge & Marley" opens on a bleak Christmas Eve in Screws, a gay Chicago nightclub owned and operated by Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean-spirited skinflint who seems to take pleasure in firing people. As played by David Pevsner, he lurks in his office and doesn't join the warmth and cheer around the piano bar. He's the club's gloom and doom department, a contrast to the crowd singing Christmas carols.
Because the origins of the story are well-known, it comes as no surprise that he is about to be encountered by three ghosts from Christmases past, present and future, most notably past, all of whom wear a sufficiency of lipstick, and by onetime business partner Marley, played in horror film makeup and style by Tim Kazurinsky, a Second City veteran who brings a macabre zeal to the role.
This sets up a framework for flashbacks, including a fraught visit to Scrooge's homophobic parents. His dad sets the period by reading Holiday magazine, an example of the film's resourcefulness with limited sets but not, let it be said, costumes.
One of the flashbacks features stand-up comic, Oscarcast joke writer and former local legend Bruce Vilanch, as the proprietor of Fezziwig's, a gay club that represents the kind of establishment Screws should have been, if Scrooge had learned anything.