In the run up to Christmas, Netflix have released their holiday special of A Very Murray Christmas, a one man show that follows Bill Murray struggling for motivation amidst a snow storm in New York where none of his guests have turned up. Trying to make the most of the situation he does whatever he can to lighten the mood and provide a few festive tunes along the way.
At the start of the special Murray is hesitating, trying to wiggle his way out of a gig that is certain to be a disaster due to the city being shut down because of bad weather. Airports are closed, the subway is shut down and there is nobody out. Pushing him into limelight though are his producers played by Amy Poehler and Julie White. In typical producer fashion they doggedly take him out of his comfort zone and force him into performing some musical numbers without an audience that is being beamed live across the country, whilst paying little to attention the project itself. As the show falls apart due to a power outage, and a hasty exit of the producers, Murray and the musician Paul Shaffer withdraw to the bar for a drink. It is in the bar that the mood begins to lighten and Murray provides words of wisdom to the bars patrons, staff, and those stuck in the hotel on Christmas Eve.
The show is very much a tribute to variety shows of yesteryear that contained songs, dance and nice little sketches that kept the pace going. Unfortunately this special lacks a little charm and is very light on the comedy. What it does lack in laughs though it more than makes up for in song, which really are the saving grace here. There are a number of cameos from familiar faces especially from comedy. Michael Cera, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Rudolph and Chris Rock all make appearances in the show with some having bigger impacts than others, it must be said though that Maya Rudolph pretty much steals the show with her moment on the mic. Though Murray is the lead in the special, and has proven in the past he can lead a film easily, this time around the special is very much saved by the contributions of those making small appearances.
As mentioned before Maya Rudolph is one of the highlights, but also Jenny Lewis and her rendition of Baby It’s Cold Outside was fantastic, Bill Murray’s contributions to the musical side are good, and when George Clooney finally makes an appearance with Miley Cyrus in tow it certainly raises the festive spirits. In fact despite not necessarily being a fan of her music, after her brief appearance her in song, Miley Cyrus could easily make a really good Christmas album, but alas I digress. Unfortunately with these slight jovial moments aside, the special on a whole is just a bit flat and very much coasts along until the final songs and brighter setting. It is a shame considering the talent involved and the skill sets they have, but maybe my expectations were a bit high, because this holiday special wasn’t actually that special.