“That’s the one good thing about regret: It’s never too late. You can always change tomorrow if you want to.”
Cynical TV executive Frank Cross (Bill Murray) wants to make sure that every viewer in America tunes in for the big Christmas Eve broadcast. Before the festive to-do, Frank gets ghosted by the former head of the company. The dead man promises Frank will meet three ghosts that will unveil to Frank the true spirit of Christmas.
Despite its efforts to be wacky, Scrooged is actually a pretty straightforward version of A Christmas Carol. This is certainly a more adult-oriented version of the tale. Sarcasm is abundant and there are plenty of nods to Charles Dickens’ original novel. Like our other looks into the soul of Ebenezer, we will see what Erik Erikson has to say about Frank Cross.
Generativity vs. Stagnation
It is safe to assume that Frank Cross might be a hair older (though with less hair) than Connor Mead from Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Frank does not talk a lot about kids or the bachelor lifestyle; nor does he seem to apologize for his lack of a romantic partnership or his feverish focus on his career.
Plus, there’s the hair thing…
In this case, Frank could be in his 40s or so, implying that he is in the thralls of Erikson’s Generativity versus Stagnation phase. Essentially, this developmental level is concerned with finalizing a legacy – something that will outlast the person beyond their exit from the Earth. This is obvious from the beginning of Scrooged because Frank has a lot of emotion invested into his station’s holiday broadcast ad. To Frank, his televised products may be his intended legacy – and a fairly lame legacy, as a few ghosts are quick to note.
The idea of creating a legacy gets more confusing with the appearance of Frank’s ex-girlfriend, Claire (Karen Allen). She is personable, generous, and kind – which makes one wonder what she ever saw in Frank in the first place! Claire’s loving nature, though admired by Frank, also appears to scare him off when they date; his own self-involved habits toward his TV career halt their relationship until the days leading up to Frank’s Christmas Eve lineup.
As the ghosts take Frank on his fateful trip through the past, present, and future, Frank realizes how strong his love for Claire truly is; through ghostly lenses, Frank sees clearly that Claire’s nature is something he too would like to emulate. This legacy, he understands, is a much more harmonious and everlasting one than the making of a (lame) holiday TV special.
For the adults in the room, this is a great version of the Dickensian story. Faithful to the original in its structure, Scrooged features a modern goodie-bag. There’s a Tiny Tim whose illness is mental rather than physical; a ghost that kicks Frank in the gonads; and a FEMALE Bob Cratchit. Even if Bill Murray does not bring holiday cheer on his own (though he ought to), the film itself gets an honorable mention here for its combination of classic tale and clever twist.