Scrooge & Marley: Film Review
Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville's spin on the holiday classic follows the owner of a successful piano bar who abhors the spirit of Christmas and mistreats his employees.
Charles Dickens’ holiday classic A Christmas Carol has survived innumerable permutations throughout the years, so there’s no reason it won’t similarly persevere through Scrooge & Marley, a new gay-themed adaptation that offers few surprises in its campy retelling. If the idea of seeing comedy writer/performer Bruce Vilanch as a swishy Fezziwig sounds appealing, then this is the film for you.
Shot in Chicago and set in the present-day, the film directed by Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville presents “Ben” Scrooge (David Pevsner) as the owner of a successful piano bar who abhors the spirit of Christmas and mistreats his employees, who at least are able to take out their frustrations in song.
Preparing to spend Christmas Eve in his usual misanthropic manner, he’s startled to discover the ghost of his former partner Marley (former SNL regular Tim Kazurinsky), although as in the original story he at first ascribes the appearance to the aftereffects of dinner.
“I specified no MSG!” he sputters.
He’s then, of course, visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Ronnie Kroell) who, with the help of poppers, spirits Scrooge away to his early years plagued by a homophobic father. Ensuing visitations by the ghosts of Christmas present (Megan Cavanagh) and future (JoJo Baby) provide predictable gay spins on the familiar tale, here frequently interrupted by musical interludes.
“Hold on, Scroogey baby, I feel a production number coming on,” says the Ghost of Christmas present by way of introduction to one MTV video-style segment.
The stagey proceedings, narrated by television/theater veteran Judith Light, have their occasional amusing moments despite the amateurish filmmaking and overly broad performances. And even with the severe tinkering on display Dickens’ tale is so sturdy that the sentimental climax remains moving. But this film, being advertised as “A Holiday Movie for All of Us,” is strictly for a niche audience.
(Sam I Am Films)
Cast: David Pevsner, Tim Kazurinsky, Rusty Schwimmer, Bruce Vilanch, Megan Cavanagh, Ronnie Kroell, David Moretti, Richard Ganoung, JoJo Baby, Judith Light
Directors: Richard Knight Jr., Peter Neville
Screenwriters: Ellen Stoneking, Richard Knight Jr., Timothy Imse
Producers: Tracy Baim, David Strzepek
Director of photography: Andrew Parotte
Editor: Peter Neville
Production designer: Robert Steffen
Costume designer: Jill L. Dunbar
Composer: Lisa McQueen
Not rated, 93 min.