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Review: A Very Murray Christmas

A Very Murray Christmas
11.18.2015
8 10

PLOT: It’s Christmas time in New York, but Bill Murray’s not happy. Not only has he foolishly agreed to host a live Christmas special, but a blizzard has led to him being abandoned by all his celebrity pals, including George Clooney. With only the always loyal Paul Shaffer to accompany him on piano, Murray does his best to bring some drunken X-Mas cheer to all of us.

REVIEW: Bill Murray loves to sing. A few years ago I attended “Bill Murray Day” at TIFF and before he graciously participated in an extended Q & A with his life-long pal Mitch Glazer (co-writer of this special as well as Murray’s collaborator on SCROOGED, ROCK THE KASBAH and more) he treated us all to a rockin’ rendition of Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret.” According to Glazer, Murray wouldn’t go on-stage unless he was allowed to sing.

A very murray christmas bill murray sad

As such, I’m not a bit surprised to see that Murray’s gone full-on Bing Crosby in his eagerly-awaited Christmas Special, A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS. And, while there are some digs at the low-fi way Crosby’s specials used to go down, for the most part this is a sleek offering, with none other than Murray’s LOST IN TRANSLATION director Sofia Coppola at the helm.

The premise, that Murray’s stuck doing a X-Mas special with no celebrity guests, is a funny one but it’s abandoned early-on. While it does allow Coppola to play with some of the classic X-Mas special TV tropes, such as horrible, ill-conceived duets (Bill Murray and Chris Rock) along with cross-fades, for the most part this is a sophisticated affair. Most of it concerns Murray trying to cheer up some hotel guests who find themselves alone at Christmas, and in some way’s it’s like the old Hugh Hefner “Playboy After Dark” show from the sixties, with him swilling drinks and joining various musical guests at the piano for chit-chat and a couple of songs.

A very murray christmas bill murray happy george clooney miley cyrus

The choice of tunes and guests is pretty interesting, with Murray doing a cute duet with Rilo Kelly’s Jenny Lewis, before eventually getting into a raucous version of The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ with pal David Johansen. None of the celebrity guests – other than Rock and in an extended fantasy sequence, George Clooney and Miley Cyrus – play themselves. People like Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, Rashida Jones and Jason Schwartzman play various regular folks Murray encounters. Some of the writing is rather sharp, with in interesting, self-reflexive moment where Murray offers to take a selfie with a runaway bride (Jones) because "people seem to like that.”

Running a lean fifty-five minutes, most of the special is devoted to Murray’s crooning, but he does the song in a straight-forward-style, not a la Nick the Lounge singer. People poke fun at Murray’s voice throughout, but he actually sings pretty damn good, although the show is stolen by Maya Rudolph, who belts-out a show-stopping version of “All Alone on Christmas.”

Given Coppola’s involvement and Murray’s recent comedic trends, people probably shouldn’t expect a rib-cracking laugh-riot, but this rather sophisticated special is a nifty X-Mas treat and could become a tradition for the great Murray. At the very least, it’s the only chance we’ll ever get to see Murray and George Clooney duet on “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’” while Miley Cyrus dances in the background.

Source: JoBlo.com

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