American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
“Scrooged” is one of the most disquieting, unsettling films to come along in quite some time. It was obviously intended as a comedy, but there is little comic about it, and indeed the movie’s overriding emotions seem to be pain and anger. This entire production seems to be in dire need of visits from the ghosts of Christmas.
The movie stars Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a tormented TV network president who is approaching the Christmas season in a foul mood. He has cut himself off from everybody who loves him, he delights in criticizing and humiliating his colleagues, and he leads a lonely life, sitting in his high-rise office, watching TV and pouring down the vodka. His idea of an effective promotional ad is one that scares viewers into watching. His next production will be a live, multimillion-dollar Christmas Eve performance of “Scrooge,” and we follow him through the wreckage of his life as he attempts to wreck the TV show, as well.
Cross is a thoroughly miserable wretch, played by Murray in a thoroughly miserable mood. What seems to be missing are the lightness and good cheer that lurk beneath the surface of most Murray performances. He’s often gruff in his movies, but in a way that lets you know he’s just kidding. This time, he doesn’t seem to be kidding.
Murray’s ill humor affects the chemistry of scene after scene, introducing a kind of undertow. When he shouts at people, he doesn’t add a little spin of self-mocking exaggeration, so that we know to laugh. He seems to be really shouting. And the other actors look as if they really feel shouted at.