Richard Donner's updated version of Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol is funny in fits and starts but falls short of what seems to have been its intentions. Bill Murray stars as the misanthropic television executive who needs to be scared into changing his ways in the reconfigured tale. Michael O'Donoghue, the famously disturbed and often very funny writer who penned the first Saturday Night Live sketch ever to air, seems to have been the dominant figure in this enterprise, and the film plays like a prolonged sketch inspired by Charles Addams rather than Charles Dickens. The comedian adds an ugly edge of surliness to his usual hipster persona, and seems more interested in getting off his occasionally funny one-liners than relating in any way to the other characters. Karen Allen, as a former girlfriend, is particularly ill-used in this way, and Alfre Woodard, the secretary who plays the Bob Cratchit role, barely seems to exist. An exception is Carol Kane, as a two-fisted Christmas Present who gives the smarmy executive a wake-up call. The confused and meaningless ending is played by Murray just as ironically as the rest of the film, which is to say, just as safely.