Pinching every penny, Ebenetha Scrooge (Cicely Tyson) has built up her loan shark business without the unnecessary distraction of charitableness. So focused is Ebenetha on the bottom line that she doesn't countenance raises for hard-pressed employees like Bob Cratchit (John Bourgeois). Unable to rest in peace, her late mentor Marley (Katherine Helmond) materializes with a warning for Scrooge to mend her ways. Next, a succession of ghostly spirits appear to show Scrooge the error of her ways and offer redemption. The Ghost of Christmas Past (Michael J. Reynolds) places blame for Scrooge's skinflint ways on her father's business failure and premature death in a fire. Is it any wonder the Ghost of Christmas Present (Shaun Austin-Olsen) catches her unaware of the plight of Cratchit's son Tim (William Greenblatt) who's terminally ill? When the Ghost of Christmas Future reveals the dispensation of her holdings to the IRS, Scrooge turns over a generous new leaf. An Afrocentric revamp of A Christmas Carol doesn't sound promising, but this update is more than a gimmicky repackaging. Infinitely preferable to earlier TV movies like EBENEEZER (starring Jack Palance) and EBBIE (starring Susan Lucci), this version not only modernizes but also darkens Charles Dickens' classic Yuletide tale by depriving Ebenetha of her loved ones, one by one; at least the original Ebeneezer had Fezziwig. Besides developing ample motivation for Scrooge's heartlessness, the film effectively utilizes the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement to show how Ebenetha has turned her back on her own people. Although she lapses into cuteness when her character sees the light, the otherwise formidable Tyson creates a convincingly acerbic miser who doesn't even need to utter "Bah, Humbug!" to send shivers down your spine.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: G
- Review: Pinching every penny, Ebenetha Scrooge (Cicely Tyson) has built up her loan shark business without the unnecessary distraction of charitableness. So focused is Ebenetha on the bottom line that she doesn't countenance raises for hard-pressed employees like… (more)