Mister Scrooge to See You, Part 3
So Scrooge conks out on his park bench, and has a weird dream about Jacob Marley, where Marley kinda abandons him in a snowstorm. The movie’s exactly half over at this point, and this is the second time we’ve seen Marley, and we still have no evidence that he was behind any of the time-travel events.
Regardless, Eb is woken up at midnight by, of all people, Belle. She has gone out alone at midnight specifically to find him, though her first reaction to him as he sits up is to threaten him with pepper spray.
Apparently Matthew clued Belle in as to where to find Scrooge. (And okay, is there any timespan of over twenty minutes in any given day when Matthew is not loitering at the Dinner Belle???) And what Belle wants to do is reveal to Scrooge that the crown he gave her for the tea is worth $2000. Weirdly, Belle then corrects herself to “pounds,” which is so wrong, because one American dollar does not equal one British pound. Today, as we sit here, one dollar is worth about .67 British pound.
In any event, according to this cool site, one crown in 1844 has the buying power of 31 US dollars today, which seems an excessive amount of money to toss down for a cup of tea you didn’t even have a chance to drink…even for a generous guy like Scrooge.
Also, one of the few intentionally funny lines happens here: Belle says that “Ebay says” what the coin is worth, and Scrooge scoffs, “I would like to have a talk with this Mister Ebay—it is preposterous for him to have you believe such a thing!”
Except…Scrooge knows he’s traveled into the future. Is this successful businessman really unfamiliar with the concept of inflation?
That little reveal over, Belle does something mind-bogglingly stupid: she invites this delusional homeless man to her home. The home of a single woman. And no, she tells nobody what she’s doing.
As Eb and Belle bond over tea in her kitchen, Scrooge marvels at “tea—in little bags!” As well he might…he won’t see another one in his lifetime.
Still, I just can’t get over how these time-travelers aren’t surprised by electricity, electric ranges, and hey—refrigeration!
Instead, Eb fixates on that same photo(shop) of Belle and Tim, because yet another copy is tacked to Belle’s fridge. That makes three that we’ve seen—one that Tim keeps in his desk, one that Belle carries on her person at all times, and another that she keeps tacked to her fridge.
Wow. That’s some torch to carry.
It appears that neither of them sleep, with Eb still trying to convince Belle he’s from the past. Finally, he gives up and changes the subject to Belle and her problems, and Belle says that the diner and Petra are all she has.
“That [sic], and my faith.”
(Indeed, Belle has a HUGE cross hanging on her wall, right next to a placard with “And Know That I Am God” on it. And some trumpeting angels plastered on other walls, though those might be Christmas decorations.)
Scrooge quotes Hebrews at her, they quote Shakespeare at each other, and Belle fusses around with a teddy bear who lives on her couch (?????).
Suddenly, Eb remembers that he’s been carrying a copy of the partnership agreement for Scrooge and Cratchit around in his pocket all this time! This is what sells Belle on the whole time travel idea, because the document “looks like it was made yesterday.” Now, it was, as Eb points out, but it also could have been made yesterday, as in December 10, 2013. I do some calligraphy myself, and could make a pretty little document with the numbers “1844” on it anytime.
So immediately that she believes him (and I do mean immediately), Belle comes up with an extremely bizarre plan for Eb to have another meeting with Tim. I’ll try to lay it all out, but I’m honestly still unsure of what her ultimate goal is.
(And, again, it has absolutely nothing to do with “Scrooging” Tim.)
Belle’s plan involves schooling Scrooge on various things (with help from Petra). Now, this in itself is not a bad idea, so that he doesn’t distract anybody by his fear of cars and televisions, but…the things she chooses to teach him run the gamut from the sensible to the pointless:
- How to use a cellphone
- The definitions of business terms (?????)
- How to order “modern” coffee
- Modern slang, like “swag” and “stoked“
- How to speak Spanish
So, items 2 and 5 on this list: Belle and Petra, who together run an utterly failed business, propose to teach this seasoned, successful businessman terms like “enterprise” and “yield“??? SERIOUSLY???
HEY BELLE, HOW ABOUT LEARNING HOW TO PAY YOUR OWN EMPLOYEE BEFORE PRESUMING TO TEACH ANYONE ELSE ANYTHING ABOUT BUSINESS???
Also, Spanish? Why in the multiverse would this time traveler, who doesn’t even know what a radio is, need to know how to speak another language?
I hate to jump to a conclusion, but did they really put this part in so Hispanic Petra would Have Something to Do? Like the only thing she would be capable of teaching anyone is…how to speak Spanish?
And no, this skill in no way ends up being necessary.
Then, in yet another stupid business move by Belle, she cashes in Eb’s coin…not to help fund the mortgage, but to buy Eb an expensive new suit for the meeting with Tim. And this is doubly unnecessary because 1) Eb’s own suit doesn’t look incredibly out of place and 2) it is revealed that Belle has several extra suits he can use anyway, that belonged to her father.
They have their meeting with Tim (and Ron), and turns out Ron “minored in document recognition and authentication” in college, which allows him to determine that the document is “authentic,” and I don’t see how he can possibly think so, when it was written last week. It shouldn’t look old to Ron at all. I could see him being flummoxed by the “olden” styling of the paper and type of ink, but it’s not a document that’s 169 years old. Hell, Scrooge made sure we knew that!
In true stupidity, this means to Ron that “Mr. Scrooge is entitled to a half interest in the firm.”
Are you saying you believe he’s a time traveler, Ron? Like he is the Ebenezer Scrooge? From 1844? If so, why aren’t you calling every media outlet available to tell them about the time traveler, instead of acting like this is a slightly-out-of-the-ordinary business transaction?
And if you don’t believe he is Ebenezer Scrooge, why do you think he would be entitled to anything? I could buy a document commemorating the founding of a business, but that doesn’t mean I then own the business. The document only gives a partnership to Robert Cratchit (who at this point has been dead for over one hundred years), and changes the name of the company.
What the hell, movie?
“I don’t know what the two of you are trying here…”
Neither do I, Tim. Neither do I.
Indeed, Belle sits there looking all smug, when I don’t see how this little con gets her any closer to getting her diner’s mortgage paid.
When Tim brings up the theory that this is a blackmail ploy, Belle condescendingly showhorns some Carol in:
“Tim, you fear the world too much.”
Who can blame him? He has no idea what’s going on, and neither does anyone else in the room, apparently.
But Tim goes for it, for the really stupid reason, proffered by Ron, that kicking Scrooge out will bring bad publicity (?????) and thus adversely affect profits (??????????).
Would there even be any publicity from this? What would the headline be?
“Delusional Homeless Man Demands Partnership in Successful Local Financial Firm; Security Throws His Ass Out”
Tim at least instructs Ron to have both Belle and Scrooge investigated. So at least he’s not a complete fool.
And his parting shot is one instance where the Carol shoehorning works:
“When this is over, they’ll be spending eternity in chains.”
Tim sets Scrooge up for a physical, part of his plan for “investigating” him, and Scrooge declares himself “fit as a fiddle.” A fiddle that has never been to a dentist, been exposed to any sort of modern medicine, and bathes once a week, that is.
Ron asks Eb what his plans are for the company, and Scrooge responds with a bunch of trendy business-speak that he just learned, and that confuses everyone. This is played for laughs.
But the real laugh is that Belle’s lessons have actually made this intelligent businessman…stupider. Good work, Belle, you’re a credit to…whatever.
And Scrooge really does have nothing to do at the firm at all—she spends his day sitting in Tim’s office playing Angry Birds. (No, really.) Way to Scrooge him, buddy.
Then he wanders the halls being friendly with people. Then he unilaterally reverses Tim’s decision about raising the rent on the youth center. Can he do that? I doubt it, but so it goes.
(I guess even if he technically couldn’t, he does it in front of a TV camera, so Tim can’t take it back. And I like Tim’s acting here—he actually looks physically ill at the idea of lowering the rent.)
Again, what the hell, movie? Are we going to get around to showing Tim his past, present, and future, so he can change his ways?
But Tim is so pissed off that he meets with Belle in private, offering her the deed to her diner so that she will “call off Scrooge or whoever he is.”
AND BELLE REFUSES
Because of “loyalty and friendship.”
Um, what about her loyalty and friendship to Petra, the pal she hasn’t paid in four months? WHY isn’t she doing this? WHAT was her plan?
I don’t think even Belle knows what the plan is. Which is just further evidence that she doesn’t have the brainpower required to run a small business.
To top it all off, Belle acts deeply confused and insulted that Tim would think this was intentional on her part.
When she was the one who “schooled” Scrooge and brought him back to Tim in the first place. Yeah, how dare Tim be suspicious of her motives! How evil of him!!!
Back at the office, Scrooge has brought in Christmas decorations and is throwing an office party. Tim loses it, and I really wish we knew (as we did with Scrooge) why he hates Christmas so much, but the movie isn’t letting on.
But we do learn that Scrooge has learned about artificial Christmas trees and big box stores. Glad Belle has gotten him up to speed on the true necessities in life.
But Tim and Scrooge do have a little conversation, in which Scrooge basically plays the part of Fred from Carol, paraphrasing this.
But then he goes RTC on us!
Tim makes the (salient) point that most of the good at Christmas isn’t “lasting,” and he actually sounds kinda sad about that. Scrooge then backpedals on everything he just quoted from his nephew (who is never mentioned once in this whole movie…shouldn’t Scrooge be just a bit sad at the thought that Fred has been dead for a century?).
“It is not what I give or do that is important at Christmas…”
Yeah! What importance did Scrooge giving anything ever have???
“But rather what has been given to me, to all of us. Surely, the babe in the manger is cause for celebration.”
Now, this is actually where things get interesting. Because he didn’t say anything like that in A Christmas Carol. In fact, that’s why some hardcore RTCs take issue with Carol—not enough Jesus, works-based salvation, etc.
Tim dismisses this as a “fairy tale” and “a crutch.”
Scrooge counters that by Tiny Tim Logic, everyone needs a crutch sometimes.
Thus making Scrooge the second character profiled on this blog to straight-up admit that Christianity is a crutch.
He also tells Tim that he would be wise to think more about his ancestors and their kind-hearted dispositions, only for Tim to drop some knowledge on Eb:
Tim is adopted! He was abandoned, and Tim Cratchit the Fifth adopted him!
Hot damn. I admit, that’s a bit of a cool revelation.
It does raise a few questions, though: Where did Tim learn to be so Scrooge-ish? From his father, the one who named him after himself and left him the whole business, but who also forbade him from dating Belle, “like [he forbade] everything else.” Is Tim the Fifth the one who really needed a visit from the Spirits???
Now, this could be a real chance for Tim and Scrooge to bond, because Scrooge had a bad relationship with his own father. (Carol itself isn’t specific about why Scrooge’s father isn’t “kind” to him, but most of the movies posit that Scrooge’s mother died in childbirth, and his father blamed him.)
But hey, who cares about that?? The important point for this Scrooge is that Tim is “not an orphan,” but “an adopted child not of man but of God.”
Which seems rather cruelly dismissive to a young man who’s just opened his heart up about his conflicted feelings about his very earthly adoption.
And Tim’s not having it, complete with stereotypical atheist logic:
“I don’t want you or anyone else, living or dead, to tell me how to live my life. You don’t know me; no one does.”
And Scrooge could have known Tim. He could have Scrooged him this whole time…though that would have taken a bit more effort and a bit less playing of Angry Birds.
Disappointed that he hasn’t gotten through to Tim in one four-minute conversation, Scrooge beats a hasty retreat, but Tim is hurt and lashes out with an awesome parting shot:
“Oh, Mr. Scrooge—June 6th, 1870…the day you die.”
Scrooge has the temerity to look shocked and hurt by this, but I can’t help feeling he should be a bit happy. One year ago, he was told he would be dead now. Instead, he learns for a fact that he will live to be EIGHTY-FOUR YEARS OLD. He has another 26 years to live. For a man his age, coming from the 1840s, wouldn’t this seem like a near-miraculous lifespan? Hell, millions of people today would love to make it to their eighties!
But no, Scrooge walks off disheartened. And to think, all this time, he could have been Scrooging Tim.
As a bridge to next time, allow me to recommend some way more awesome versions of A Christmas Carol:
Obviously, the 1984 George C. Scott version. The definitive version, as far as I’m concerned. Amazing sets, great performances, every detail is just fantastic. And I always, always cry when Scrooge goes to see Fred at the end.
Another TV version, entirely different: Ebbie. Not perfect in every way, but a very cool modern take on Carol, and the first gender-bending version I ever saw. My favorite versions of Carol seem to have in common that the Scrooge character is portrayed as a capable businessperson, smart and competent. Ebbie (short for Elizabeth Scrooge) runs a department store. Finally found it on DVD this year—so excited!
And, of course:
Because this is culture.