Billed as "a holiday movie for all of us," "Scrooge & Marley" is in fact very niche, being of and for that segment of the gay community that enjoys watered-down camp and syrupy empowerment messages.
Billed as “a holiday movie for all of us,” “Scrooge & Marley” is in fact very niche, being of and for that segment of the gay community that enjoys watered-down camp and syrupy empowerment messages, which are not to be confused with the good kinds of either. This spin on “A Christmas Carol” delivers a heavy-handed morality play that Dickens himself might have found gauche, sugar-coated with weak songs and broad performances. Playing scattered theatrical runs between now and Christmas, the pic figures to do modest but better biz from its home-format release next month.Raining on his employees’ seasonal cheer (even firing one of them), Ebenezer, aka Ben, Scrooge (David Pevsner) shutters the gay nightclub he ripped off long ago from a former benefactor (the inevitable Bruce Vilanch) and settles in for a grumpy solo Christmas Eve. But he’s visited first by Marley (Tim Kazurinsky), his former partner in ruthless gay-community bilking, now a salvation-seeking denizen of purgatory. As in the Dickens story, three more ghosts follow: Christmas Past (Ronnie Kroell), who helps Ben revisit his homophobic father and other contributors to his greedy, mean adult personality; Present (Megan Cavanagh), who shows how forgiving the people around him are; and Future (JoJo Baby), who promises Scrooge’s customarily bleak reward. Scrooge redeems himself, natch, though the maudlin final scenes are cringe-inducing. Of course, it’s impossible to do a “Carol” without sentimentality — Scrooge’s whole journey is about thawing his heart. But “S&M” (get it?) is so crude and literal-minded in its gay reinterpretation that no genuine emotion can get past the script’s compilation of cliches. Execution isn’t much better, with a low budget that might’ve been turned to a more imaginative pic’s advantage, but here is charmlessly obvious, with tacky f/x and stagy interiors; indeed, the material could translate to a proscenium with little alteration. Shot in Chicago, the pic clumsily uses frequent blackouts to transition between scenes in a mediocre tech/design package.