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To kickoff a week of Christmas films, we watched the 1988 holiday film SCROOGED. A modern take on the Dickens classic, the film features Bill Murray at the peak of his box office draw as TV executive Frank Cross.

A modern day Ebenezer, Cross hates the holiday, loves big ratings and doesn't have a caring bone in his body.

He is visited on Christmas Eve by his long dead former boss Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) who warns him that three ghosts will visit him to change his ways.

Murray spends the first half hour of the film shouting, screaming and being generally obnoxious. While some of it is entertaining, it's not the gentle, teasing hilarious Murray we loved in "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters" and the character becomes pretty grating.

The film gets better as it goes, especially in any scenes featuring the wildly violent and entertaining Ghost of Christmas Present played by Carol Kane and Alfre Woodard as Cross' long suffering assistant.

Bobcat Goldthwait, Buddy Hackett and Robert Mitchum round out an eclectic cast, with the lively Karen Allen fairing the worst as a strangely bland love interest for Murray.

Behind the scenes stories tell of director Richard Donner and Murray battling on the set everyday, with Donner pushing hard for Murray's performance to be bigger & louder. In retrospect, Murray might have paid too much attention to that direction.

The TV preview for Robert Goulet's Cajun Christmas still makes me laugh.

Overall, SCROOGED holds up a bit better than I thought it would, with some genuine laughs sprinkled lightly throughout and a pleasing if predictable wrap up.

More Christmas goose than a holiday treasure, we'll give it a B-.

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