This film rides the line between Naughty and Nice. It's definitely a solid Christmas film - based very closely on A Christmas Carol, but there's booze, swearing, and less than nice characters. So if you disagree with the inclusion on the nice list, take it up with Rachel. I saw this movie for the FIRST time just a few weeks ago (it's what inspired our 25 days of Christmas Blog-a-thon) for our Bill Murray episode of the Reel Insight podcast. Yes, I had avoided seeing it for more than 20 years. But man was I glad I rectified that mistake.
Murray plays Frank Cross, a TV executive that doesn't give a crap about Christmas except for the ratings. His station is planning a live adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but the ad he creates for it ultimately kills and older woman because it's so violent and scary. He's basically messed up when it comes to the holidays. He gives towels as gifts (last year was bathmats) and doesn't see why people should decorate or celebrate. His long-suffering assistant, Grace (Alfre Woodard) is the Bob Cratchit of the story, with her own Tiny Tim, Calvin, who hasn't spoken since his father died.
Cross is visited by the 3 ghosts over the course of the night before the live show, after first being visited by his old mentor and boss who died but didn't have a happy, family-oriented Christmas loving life. The ghost of Christmas past was my favorite - a cab driver who smokes cigars (David Johanson) and shows him coming up in the business with his girlfriend Claire (Karen Allen). He's kind of an ass, but really did have a shitty time working his way up. Eventually they part ways, and Carol Kane shows up as the Ghost of Christmas present. She's awesome - easily the craziest part of the movie - she beats the crap out of Cross constantly. She shows him his brother's house (where Grace sent a VCR instead of a towel for Christmas - the things that date this movie make it more awesome) and Grace's home. Of course, finally, the non-human ghost of Christmas future appears and shows him a what an unremembered scumbag he'll become and how awful the lives of people around him will be if he doesn't straighten up.
My only issue with the movie is the side story of an employee he fires on Christmas Eve, Bobcat Goldthwait, who we see go crazy, and arrive back at the studio to kill Cross later. It's dumb and doesn't add much to the story, except to show Cross's transformation when he gives him back his job. Still a great version of A Christmas Carol.