What’s Worth Watching: ‘A Very Murray Christmas’ on Netflix for Friday, December 4
A Very Murray Christmas (Friday, Dec. 4, Netflix)
Channeling the imbibed spirit of Dean Martin with a mopey holiday irony all his own, Bill Murray sings the Christmas Blues—quite literally, it’s his opening number (and a Martin staple)—in the genially twisted Netflix special, A Very Murray Christmas, stylishly directed by his Lost in Translation collaborator Sofia Coppola. Set in the swank cabaret club (and suites, bars and other locations) within New York’s plush Carlyle Hotel, this hourlong satire finds Murray preparing to perform a live TV Christmas special—of the sort where famous friends (George Clooney! Miley Cyrus!) pop by to sing carols and such—when a blizzard stops the show, leaving him stranded in a melancholy haze.
Though an unflappable Paul Shaffer (his accompanist from back in the Saturday Night Live “Lounge Singer” heyday) declares, “I wouldn’t miss this nutty gig for the world,” his snarky producers (Amy Poehler and Julie White) are no help, and even a surprise visit by Chris Rock, who reluctantly duets a Christmas classic wearing a sprig of holly on his turtleneck, doesn’t do much to lighten Bill’s mood. The special takes a turn toward the surreal midway through, as Murray drowns his sorrows by mixing it up with boozy guests and helpful staff played by guest-stars including Maya Rudolph, Rashida Jones and Jenny Lewis (as Murray’s “little brandy angel” of a waitress, who sings a mean “Baby It’s Cold Outside”). A climactic fantasy sequence with playful star power delivers the cheesy charm you might have expected upon tuning in.
(If you’re seeking the genuine article, check out the listings for nostalgia channel getTV, which is airing some truly vintage Christmas specials during the holiday weeks—including a mini-marathon in the wee hours of Saturday morning starting at 2 am/1c, featuring the likes of Bing Crosby, Merv Griffin, Andy Williams, Mitzi Gaynor and the King Family. You can thank me later.)