Reviewed on 2008 December 1
Unintentionally funniest version amongst the zillions out there of the Charles Dickens Christmas fable, with Susan Lucci chewing much scenery (but having fun) as the title Christmas-hating grouch in need of an attitude adjustment.
Elizabeth “Ebbie” Scrooge (Lucci) is the nightmare head of a large department store, trolling the aisles as she looks for stuff to pick apart. While she’s a hyena with a bun on the best of days, Ebbie is really in a snit on Christmas Eve. It kills her to have to pass out the pittance holiday bonuses and give her people the 25th off. The worst of her spleen is borne by her assistant Roberta “Robbie” Cratchit (Wendy Crewson), who tolerates it because she needs the money for her son, Tim (Taran Noah Smith). Ebbie just wants to grit her teeth, get through the holiday, and get back to making money.
Ebbie’s plans to ignore the day are interrupted by the ghost of her mentor, Jake Marley (Jefrey DeMunn). Marley is horrified by her callousness and lack of charity, reminding her mankind is her business. She will be visited by three ghosts… oh, you get it.
DeMunn honestly was one of the creepiest, most haunted-looking Marleys I’ve seen in any version of ACC, and I liked Lucci’s acting much better as the post-visit, newly-minted Ebbie. The rest was just either weird or cliched and goofy. The Ghosts of Christmas Past were just bizarre — it would be a cool concept for something else but not this — and while Lorena Gale made a fine Ghost of Christmas Present, the costuming was so screwy I couldn’t just enjoy her performance. Who okayed her crown? This is supposed to be kind of sappy and a guilty pleasure, but this was just too sugary and the acting too spotty.
One chocolate morsel, and something tacky like a candy cane martini. Classic it ain’t, but it’s an original.