[Screen It]


(1988) (Bill Murray, Karen Allen) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild Heavy Moderate Moderate
Mild None Mild None Moderate
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Mild Mild Mild Moderate

Comedy: A present day TV executive faces the three ghosts of Christmas that show him his ways are wrong and must be changed.
In this updated version of the Charles Dickens' classic, Frank Cross (BILL MURRAY) is a mean-spirited, ruthless TV executive for the IBC Network. He doesn't like anyone and no one else likes him or his ideas, but most are afraid to tell him so. That is, except for Eliot Loudermilk (BOB GOLDTHWAIT) who's immediately fired. Cross is so mean that he won't let his assistant, Grace Cooley (ALFRE WOODARD) take her non-speaking son to the doctor and is a tyrant now that his network is preparing to broadcast a live multi-nation version of "A Christmas Carol." But Cross gets an eye opener when his former, and now very dead, boss Lew Hayward (JOHN FORSYTHE), shows up telling him he'll be visited by three ghosts. Cross doesn't believe him, but soon the Ghost of Christmas Past (DAVID JOHANSEN) and the Ghost of Christmas Present (CAROL KANE) take him on a mystical journey where he sees his past and present mistakes. He also sees his former girlfriend, Claire Phillips (KAREN ALLEN), who's recently visited him on his set. It's the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come that shakes him up, however, and soon he's ready to change his ways.
If they're fans of Murray or just want to see another version of this story they might.
The MPAA reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for some scary/gross material, mild language and a quick scene involving marijuana use.
  • BILL MURRAY plays the mean-spirited executive who cares only for himself.
  • KAREN ALLEN plays a kind and loving person who for some reason still puts up with Cross' behavior.
  • BOB GOLDTHWAIT plays a fired employee who takes to the bottle and tries to kill Cross with a shotgun out of revenge.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    While some movies are better the second time you watch them, this one didn't come across any better than it did eight years ago when seen in the theater. Murray is perfect as the mean and nasty "Ebenezer" character as most of his performances have that sarcastic, and bordering on mean, edge to them. But his transformation is totally unbelievable as is most of the material spent with the Ghosts (as compared to other versions of this story). The setting of the premise is interesting (with a TV production of the same story occurring in the background), but its uninspired attempts at humor (the solid gold dancers and Jamie Farr -- boy, how long ago all of that now seems) just don't work. Karen Allen is pretty much wasted in her role and Goldwaithe plays his usual crazed character. If you want to see a retelling of "A Christmas Carol," we suggest you look elsewhere. We give this one just a 3 out of 10.
    As in most versions of this tale, younger children might be frightened by the thought of and/or the appearance of the ghosts. In this case, two of the four ghosts might scare kids by their appearance, but older kids won't have any problems. There is a quick scene with marijuana use and there's a moderate amount of drinking throughout. Of course Cross is a mean and nasty guy (as in all versions of this tale) and thus is a bad role model. Another character tries to kill Cross several times with a shotgun and there are just some mild sexual references. If you or your kids want to see this film, we suggest you read through the category listings to determine if the material is appropriate.

  • Grace pours Frank some bourbon.
  • Eliot tries to drink from a brown paper bag twice (after being fired), but once his bottle breaks, and another time itís swiped from his hand (by the Ghost of Christmas past).
  • Frank drinks at work again and blames the appearance of a ghost (that also drinks) on "some bad vodka."
  • Frank and his boss order "high balls."
  • At a 1960's Christmas party people are seen drinking.
  • Claire smokes a joint (marijuana) in the bathtub.
  • Some guys in a homeless shelter offer Frank a drink but he pours it short of his cup.
  • Frank pours himself a drink (vodka) in his office.
  • Frankís boss drinks a beer.
  • Hayward, the ghost of Frankís former boss, shows up and is somewhat decayed. Heís grey looking and has flaps of flesh hanging from his face and a mouse crawls in and out of a hole in the dead manís head. Later, Frank pulls Haywardís decaying arm apart as the ghost holds him above the street.
  • Frank sees an eyeball in the bottom of his drink and then sees a man engulfed in flames (but no one else sees either).
  • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has a fiery and open rib cage where several trapped people are seen in a "hell-like" setting.
  • Frank has both as he in essence is playing "Ebenezer Scrooge." He tears down Graceís sonís drawing, he wonít let her take her son to the doctor, and he only likes Christmas because itís cold outside and more people stay inside and watch TV.
  • Frank "steals" a cab from and elderly lady struggling with her gifts.
  • Frank fires Eliot on Christmas Eve for not liking his ideas.
  • Frank thinks that itís terrific that an elderly woman died of a heart attack while watching his promo, mainly because it will bring them press attention.
  • In Frankís past, his father gives him five pounds of veal as a Christmas gift. When the four-year-old boy says he wanted a train, his father tells him to go get a job.
  • Frank tells Claire (whoís working in a homeless shelter), "If you want to save somebody, save yourself."
  • In the future, Claire is seen as a heartless person who admits to wasting twenty years on the destitute.
  • Something begins beating on (and denting) Frankís office door.
  • The appearance of Hayward (dead and grey with flesh hanging from him) and of the Ghost of Christmas to Come (tall, cloaked with screaming people seen trapped in its rib cage) may be scary to younger kids.
  • The big claw-like hand of Christmas Yet to Come reaches out for Frank but Eliot gets in the way. He aims his shotgun and fires it several times at Frank.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has a fiery and open rib cage where several trapped people try to get out.
  • Frank sees himself being cremated in the future, and then envisions himself in the casket as the flames lap at his feet.
  • Machine Guns: Seen in a TV promo for a Christmas "special" where the North Pole is attacked by bad guys with guns and Santa and the elves arm themselves.
  • Shotgun: Seen in a TV promo where a drive by shooting occurs.
  • Handgun: Used by Frank to shoot the ghost of his former boss.
  • Shotgun: Used by Eliot to shoot at Frank several times and then to hold the TV control crew hostage.
  • Phrases: "Fart," "Idiots," "Bastard," "Geez," "Moron," "Sucker," "Bitch" (toward women), "Shut up," "Jerk," "Creep," "Schmuck," "Rat bastard idiot," "Brass kahones" (testicles), and "Flatuating butt head."
  • Frank belches several times after drinking bourbon.
  • Frank tells a crew technician to staple antlers to a mouseís head. The man and Claire both object and itís not done.
  • None.
  • Thereís a mild amount of suspenseful music in the movie.
  • None.
  • 5 "s" words, 1 slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 8 hells, 4 damns, 2 "ass" words, 1 crap, and 5 uses of "Oh God," 4 uses each of "God" "Oh my God," and "God damn," and 1 use each of "For Christís sake," "Jesus" "Oh Lord," and "For the love of God" as exclamations.
  • In a "Father Loves Beaver," a TV promo spoof of "Leave it to Beaver," the beav asks his mom where his dad is. She replies, "Oh, if I know your father, heís out chasing beaver (slang for female private parts)."
  • Hayward says when he was alive he was adored by women. Frank corrects him and says that he paid for all of them.
  • The network censor says she canít let a costume be seen on air because the womanís nipples can be seen (we donít see them, but do see lots of cleavage). There are then many references to seeing the nipples by various people on the set.
  • At a 1960's Christmas party, a woman passes around photocopies of her underwear covered butt.
  • Claire gives Frank the book, "The Kama Sutra: The Hindu Art of Love," and as Frank looks at the drawings inside he says, "Done this, done that," and then reads that thereís a place you can touch a woman that will make her bark like a dog and Claire begins barking for him.
  • The "Solid Gold Dancers" who are in the Scrooged program are seen in their outfits that include bottoms that are close to G-strings in their size.
  • The Ghost of Christmas past smokes a cigar.
  • In Frankís past his parents are seen smoking.
  • Some people are seen smoking on the street.
  • In the future, Claire is seen with a cigarette.
  • People in the TV control room smoke.
  • Itís mentioned that Graceís son hasnít spoken since he saw his father killed some five years ago.
  • Frank visits his past and sees that his father wasn't very nice to him at Christmas time.
  • Ghosts.
  • How actions today can affect the future.
  • In a TV promo for a Christmas "special," terrorists attack the North pole with bombs and machine gun fire.
  • Frank tells his programming people, "Now I have to kill all of you" after seeing their holiday season programming ideas.
  • In Frankís TV promo ad, a plane explodes and a drive by shooting occurs.
  • Something pounds on (and dents) Frankís office door that then explodes inward. The ghost of Frankís former boss appears and Frank shoots it several times with a handgun, but of course the shots donít hurt it.
  • Hayward grabs Frank by the throat and holds him outside a window above the street. Frank claws at the dead guyís arm and pulls it apart and finally off, and then falls toward the street.
  • The network censor is accidentally knocked out when sheís hit on the head by a prop lamp post swung around by a crew technician.
  • Set pieces fall and land on people on the stage.
  • The Ghost of Christmas past drives his cab into other cars and hits the poles holding up a canopy.
  • Claire opens a door and accidentally hits Frank in the face. They then butt heads as both of them bend down to pick up some dropped items.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present kicks Frank in the groin, slaps him on the face, grabs him by the lip and ear and then slugs him with her fist. He warns her, "If you hit me again, Iíll rip your God damn wings off." She hits him, however, several more times, including a time when he then falls down a set of stairs. Later she head butts him and then hits him with a toaster.
  • A barrel rolls down the set and crashes into the network censor.
  • Eliot repeatedly shoots at and chases Frank with a shotgun through the office.
  • Frank, although reformed and happy, swings Eliot around and bashes him into the office walls and then into the elevator.

  • Reviewed December 14, 1996

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [1917] [Bombshell] [Cats] [Little Women] [Spies In Disguise] [Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker] [Uncut Gems]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2020 Screen It, Inc.