It’s that time of the year when holiday specials and themed shows begin coming down like snow on a winter’s night. Near the front of the reindeer herd is A Very Murray Christmas, with, as the title suggests, the nearly universally loved Bill Murray and a cast of famous and fabulously talented friends.
Debuting on Netflix on December 4, the Sofia Coppola-directed one-off really should, as my video review above says, have the words “featuring Miley Cyrus” in bright lights. Because, even though she only shows up for a couple of tunes in the fantasy sequence second half of the meta-Murray show, the former Hannah Montana star and current Flaming Lips collaborator delivers a knock-’em-dead pipes-to-kill-for performance here.
To open the real present under this tree: Come for the headliner and a bit of fun, stay for Cyrus and a voice that could put any Scrooge in the Christmas spirit.
Co-written by Murray, Coppola and Murray’s Rock The Kasbah scribe Mitch Glazer, the kind of 2-in-1 show starts slow, with Murray playing himself hosting a disastrous live Christmas special that gets deep-sixed due to a huge snowstorm hitting New York City. With Paul Shaffer as Murray’s musical sideman, this part of the show feels a lot like the Nick the Lounge Singer character Murray played during his Saturday Night Live years. Like any good variety show, as is the case here, there are a ton of tunes and cameos from Maya Rudolph, New York Dolls frontman David Johansen, Michael Cera, Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman and a very reluctant Chris Rock among those showing up.
However, once Murray Christmas moves to the more traditional soundstage setup of white pianos, fake snow, showgirls, George Clooney (who plays a very fun, funky role in one song) and Ms. Cyrus coming in on a Santa sleigh in a holiday cocktail dress – well, that’s when the lights come on, so to speak.
So, check out my video review above and tell us what you think.