Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder? I have just the Christmas special for you! With what could be considered some sort of sequel to Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray have returned to spread some sort of feeling that could be described as holiday spirit. A Very Murray Christmas is a bit sparse in the plot department and it’s more background noise than focal point. But Bill Murray’s deadpan Christmas extravaganza is still worth your some of your attention.
Not to spoil the plot but there really isn’t one. There’s a blizzard, Bill Murray is lonely, he is supposed to do a live Christmas TV special, he doesn’t want to do it, the power goes out, he runs into a bunch of famous people, they all sing songs, Bill Murray gets drunk and wakes up in his room. Merry Christmas!
The strength of A Very Murray Christmas does not lie with the story. Much like Lost in Translation, the success comes from Bill Murray’s Bill Murray-esque comedic delivery, the smokey visual tone and the lounge room musical atmosphere. This is a Christmas special for people who don’t have any Christmas parties to attend, people who may not have much in the means of family. This is for people who struggle to get through the Christmas season without regretting every decision they’ve ever made.
It’s clear from the first minute of A Very Murray Christmas that music is the driving force. Bill Murray has apparently forced Paul Schaffer into life of servitude and piano music fills every void in Bill’s life. During his snowy journey, Bill Murray runs into every celebrity that is either friends with or married to Bill or Sofia Coppola. This is not a bad thing at all. They know some pretty cool people.
Chris Rock shows up early on and has a standout performance singing a reluctant duet with Bill. Then comes musical performances from more musical adept performers like Jenny Lewis, Phoenix and Maya Rudolph. The song that Phoenix performed was my personal favorite of all the songs from the special. Alone on Christmas Day fits perfectly in the theme of the story and it’s just a darn, good song that was written by the Beach Boys.
A Very Murray Christmas is at it’s very best when it is focusing on loneliness, loss and love. The subplot with Rashida Jones and Jason Schwartzman carries the bulk of the emotional weight of the story. It is never as good as it is when that story is in the focus. Unfortunately there aren’t any other worthy subplots to make up the slack for the rest of the run time. But you do get treated to three Miley Cyrus musical numbers for some reason.
A Very Murray Christmas isn’t going to win any awards. I doubt it’s going to become an annual tradition like How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Home Alone. But Bill Murray is a cool guy to hangout with and that’s what this special is: a hangout with Bill Murray and his famous friends. The musical numbers are chill and the vibe is mellow. If you’re looking for someone to hangout with during Christmas, you could do worse than Bill Murray.