Bill Murray’s got the blues — the Christmas blues, that is. He’s about to tape a live Christmas special, but a massive blizzard has trapped his celebrity guests at home, leaving him alone in the Carlyle Hotel in New York City with a ragtag bunch of new celebrity friends to pass the holiday with, including Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.
So begins the hour-long Netflix original “A Very Murray Christmas,” which takes the classic Christmas variety show format and turns it on its head. Instead of a host on a stage bringing on singing and dancing celebrity guests, Bill Murray stumbles upon a mixed bag of individuals who are in the hotel for a variety of different reasons. Hilarity expectedly ensues.
Featuring Poehler, who plays one of Murray’s producers, and Chris Rock, who partakes in an amusing performance with Murray while clad in tacky Christmas sweaters, the show is a continuation of appearances of entertainer after entertainer, many of whom have strong chemistry with Murray.
While the special is surely entertaining, the ending seems to comes out of nowhere, and might throw viewers off a little bit. But surely, one couldn’t really have expected a neat, pretty package from Murray.
Directed by Sofia Coppola, whose previous collaboration with Murray was 2003’s modern cinematic classic, “Lost in Translation,” the special has its fair share of non sequiturs and ironic moments, reminiscent of the work of Wes Anderson, another frequent Murray collaborator.
The ironic, self-aware presentation might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the substance of the special itself is highly entertaining. It is infused with Bill Murray’s off-kilter comedy, the kind of bluntness and deadpan acting that has characterized him as a cultural phenomenon.
This variety show spinoff certainly offers an array of talent for the audience’s viewing pleasure. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the special is the opportunity to watch celebrity guests show off their hidden talents. Comedian Maya Rudolph and actress Rashida Jones show that they are quite skilled singers, and actor Jason Schwartzman demonstrates the drumming skills he acquired as the drummer for the band Phantom Planet.
All in all, while “A Very Murray Christmas” is occasionally gloomy, it ultimately delivers plenty of cheer and solid entertainment. If anything, just the sight of Bill Murray wearing reindeer antlers is enough to get viewers in the Christmas spirit.
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