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Review: ‘Scrooge and Marley’ feels pre-programmed

Pretty much all there is to say about “Scrooge and Marley” is that it is a gay-themed adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” made in Chicago. One can more or less imagine the entire film from there.

The Ghost of Christmas Past tours Ben Scrooge (David Pevsner) through being kicked out of the house by his bigoted father on to finding acceptance within the local gay community. After becoming a successful nightclub owner, Scrooge and his partner, Jacob Marley (played as a ghost by “SNL” veteran Tim Kazurinsky), cut out the man who got them started, a beloved local figure with no head for money known as Fezziwig. Then comes the Ghosts of Christmases Present and Future, etc.

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Directed by Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville, written by Knight, Ellen Stoneking and Timothy Imse and narrated by Judith Light, “Scrooge and Marley” is earnest, well-intentioned and not unpleasant, but seems almost entirely pre-programmed. The group of Scrooge’s employees who hang around his piano bar to sing and grouse is the most engaging part of the film because it’s the one place for surprises.

One’s disposition toward the movie overall may be litmus tested by the fact that the character of Fezziwig is played by Bruce Vilanch, famed for writing dubious jokes on Oscar telecasts, sporting for a time a gold foil muumuu. Does this information fill you with fear or inspire a certain curiosity? Follow your heart.

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mark.olsen@latimes.com

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‘Scrooge and Marley’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: At the Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

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