PLOT: Bill Murray worries no one will show up to his TV show due to a terrible snowstorm in New York City.
A Very Murray Christmas was just like the titular actor himself: a little strange, a little dark and mostly entertaining. While it was far from the best Christmas special I’ve ever seen, it was one that felt like it fit together properly. For those expecting a typical Christmas special, A Very Murray Christmas will disappoint you, and it’s only because your expectations are not where they should be. Murray does a good job of being “Bill Murray” throughout the special, and credit to the celebrity guests for not making it look like they were there against their will. The latter is something you don’t see in most of these ensemble specials.
There were times when it was a little boring and there’s no discernible plot, but the music is great, and I didn’t feel like we were being force-fed celebrities. The only one that stood out as a taking advantage of their name was Miley Cyrus because every other actor in this movie was in someway either connected to Murray or someone who would put their ego aside if Bill Murray asked them to appear. This is especially obvious when known actors played character and not themselves. That is why the special never gave off the vibe of, ‘Hey, we’re getting paid to appear at Radio City Music Hall and sing Christmas carols for you. Enjoy.’
The major thing I took out of A Very Murray Christmas was that Cyrus, when she’s not trying to do the crazy Madonna thing, is actually a pleasant singer to listen to. There are only a few moments where she reverts into “character” of Miley Cyrus, but during the closing number of ‘Let It Snow’, and her solo performance of ‘Silent Night’, she fit into the aesthetic perfectly if you closed your eyes and just listened. A Very Murray Christmas felt very organic and more natural than those big performance hall specials.
There is an in-character love story between Rashida Jones and Jason Schwartzman, who play a bride and groom whose wedding got ruined by the blizzard. It is sweet and nicely done segment, but it is a very small part of the special so it can’t really affect the score too much.
The Christmas-ness in A Very Murray Christmas is the reverse of Ernest Saves Christmas as it was heavy on the carols and lite on the decorations. While there was a tasteful amount, especially in the end dream sequence with Cyrus and George Clooney, it wasn’t overwhelming enough that it either became too tacky or too overwhelming. It felt just right for what they were going for.
Christmas-ness Score: 4.5 out of 5
If you are a Bill Murray fan, the special will be very hit or miss with you. I can see long time fans loving it because Murray is being Murray throughout the show, but I can also see fans hating it because there’s not enough comedy in it. This isn’t a run to your TV immediately because you absolutely need to see it special, but it’s definitely something I’m glad I now have checked off the list. It also helps that I am a fan of seeing actors that I didn’t know you could sing perform in a musical setting. This is especially true for Bill Murray and to a lesser extent Maya Rudolph.