New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.78: SCROOGED

1988’s Scrooged is a brilliantly executed Christmas comedy.

Many of you reading this can quote all the lines from this film, but the rest of you? Why you haven’t seen this film is beyond me.

The man responsible for a handful of my favorite films such as Superman, Superman II, The Goonies, The Omen, etc, Richard Donner, directed this modernization of Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol, and it deserves a rightful spot in your holiday celebrations. At first, its dark humor might surprise you, but if you are familiar with the tone of A Christmas Carol, it’s a borderline horror story. There’s ghosts and unsettling tension. Scrooged does you one better and also makes you want to do what the youngsters call “rotfl.”

According to Wikipedia, reviews on the film were mixed. Who cares? Don’t let that hinder you from this superb holiday enjoyment. It’s just soooo good. 4 o’s for effect. I mean FOUR EFFECT. And I meant it like OHHH, not simply just “O.” It is SOOOO GOOD.

Yes, it’s the same Scrooge story you’ve read and watched a million times, but it’s updated for a late ’80s audience. As TV Exec Frank Cross, Bill Murray will crack you up as he descends into eccentric paranoia. What makes this film even more special is that Murray’s superlative performance comes to life during Christmas time in New York City. With SNL and Ghostbusters, Murray is no stranger to NYC. And you know what place isn’t too far away, right? You got it! New Jersaaay!

Casting of the 3 ghosts in Scrooged was right on the money. Specifically, the Ghost of Christmas Past who was embodied by David Johansen. The N.Y Dolls rocker materialized in the form of a loud mouthed taxi driver. It doesn’t get more New York than that! Looking dirty and sleazy, he drives Cross right back to 1955 to take a look at past moments from his life.

As he drives right through a truck, the Ghost of Christmas Past yells out a line that my friends and I consider most classic:


What’s bothersome about that line is that we have drivers in this state from all over the country. I can be on a highway with New Yorkers, Floridians, Pennsylvanians, and folks from Connecticut amongst so many others. Regardless, I do enjoy the NJ reference and get a kick out of the stereotype.

The plot focuses on Cross’ mission to produce the schlockiest of Christmas Carol broadcasts to air on Christmas Eve – because it’s all about the RATINGS. Ratings are still important today, but who really cares about TV anymore? In the late ’70s and ’80s, TV networks and media groups were run like the world depended on them, and the world did. Even though we’ve mostly transitioned to the Internet for nearly everything, Scrooged retains a pertinent message.

Once Cross is reformed toward the end of the film, he completely shoots himself and his station in the foot by encouraging people to spend time with their families during Christmas rather than sit and watch TV.

I’m living proof of this. About a month ago I lost my remote control and I’ve watched exactly ONE show since then and I feel like I haven’t missed out on anything. It’s given me more time to be with friends and family. I don’t feel tied to cable. Screw you Comcast!

Just like Frank Cross, it’s a contradiction for me to say “Turn off the TV and go spend time with the family,” when I’m recommending a movie for you to watch. Somehow, I feel like watching a film on DVD is more worthwhile than flicking through 1200 channels that ultimately leads to NOTHING rewarding. Unless you land on a great classic movie like Scrooged, what’s the point of wasting your time?

A Christmas Story will be on 24 hours in a few days, PLUS you own the DVD so, at the very least, you can do something different and make Scrooged a family event. Don’t blame me if you get a little misty-eyed toward the end! It’s all good. F*ck cable. F*ck satellite. Go play a game with your kids and give your Mrs. Claus a kiss. Merry Christmas!

Butch + Stone Pony = Good Time

After having minor surgery to my lower back on Monday April 2nd I hopped onto the Garden State Parkway and headed south. It was time to go to the Stone Pony for the Butch Walker and the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites show. It was a cold, foggy night down the shore but I had a feeling what was in store for me in the next few hours. That special Asbury feeling was present although it’s weird to see half the town under construction. I actually prefer the dilapidated buildings and ruins because it reminds me of Jersey’s version of ancient Rome. I admit that I do look forward to the day that Asbury Park regains it’s prominence.
As always there were annoying people I overheard on line who were discussing that Butch somehow has done special shows only for them and how much they love Butch because they liked him for X amount of years, and they saw him X amount of times. Oh man, it kills me to be on line with some of these people. They complained that the doors weren’t opened yet and it was too cold out. They even asked Butch if he can get them to open the doors as he stepped out of his tourbus for a minute to get a water. Leave the freakin‘ guy alone, Jeez! Is he the f’n doorman? Through the utter disgust I was experiencing, I kept in mind that Butch puts on an awesome show so I kept freezing my ass off waiting in line, being pelted with sporadic drops of rain, and standing through 2 opening acts…yeah that was all great.
The first opening act, Rocket, from L.A were actually pretty enjoyable. They are an all girl band that seemed like a mixture of The Go-Go’s, The Ramones, and The New York Dolls. They appear very youthful and had tons of energy. The lead singer, Lauren Rocket (all their last names are Rocket), equipped with a red keytar, seemed like a Lindsay Lohan on Courtney Love’s crack. Pretty cool stuff. The next band up was The Honorary Title who merely deserve the title of “honorary,” rather than an actual title. It took them like 9 hours to setup their equipment and do their sound check. They were bland and their music did not leave an impression on me. You can hear some emo, The Killers, and U2 influences in their music. Most of their set list was pretty slow and somber but I prefer upbeat.
Butch blasted through a ton of fan favorites from his Marvelous 3 days as well as a bunch of songs from his latest album, “The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s Go-Out-Tonites.” Butch apologized to the Stone Pony staff and to anyone else for seeming too cliche before ripping into a big mother cover of Bruce’s Born to Run. The place exploded for Butch and his ballistic assault of “Light’s Out” during the finale. Then he ran into the crowd and sparked the audience into a frenzy. Butch Walker turned a dreary, cold Monday in the ruins of Asbury Park, feel like a Friday night in a legendary shore town.