Ah, the holiday season is upon us. And perhaps the best way to usher it in is with a drunk Bill Murray.
Murray leads A Very Murray Christmas, a new hour-long Netflix special that streams Friday. It's unlike the cloying TV so prevalent around the holidays. It's also positively Murrayesque, featuring a cabal of Murray's celebrity buddies, and it's, well, weird. But anything normal from Murray would be a disappointment in and of itself.
A cult of personality has developed around Murray, largely because he, unlike so many other famous people, can see how positively ludicrous his celebrity is. Yet, seldom too detached or too cool, he can still be utterly earnest. He's always game and ready to goof, and he uses that to his benefit in his first Netflix foray.
A Very Murray Christmas is a slight affair. Like any variety show, it has its ups and downs, but it never feels overly long - and to call brevity its best asset is no insult. It's heavily musical, with Christmas jams new and old sung by Miley Cyrus, Phoenix, and Jenny Lewis.
The plot, what plot there is, is paper-thin. Murray is supposed to host a live musical spectacular at the Carlyle Hotel, but the biggest blizzard of all time has shut down New York City, and none of his celebrity buds - George Clooney! - has braved the weather. Alas, Paul McCartney, Pope Francis, and Iggy Azalea will probably never get to sit at the same table ever again. The only person to show up is Chris Rock, and he's not even supposed to be there. The plot may be nonexistent, but it allows Murray to play the hangdog sad-sack, and, more important, gives him a reason to go drinking.
Instead of hanging with his celeb pals, Murray gets drunk with the hotel staff - enter Phoenix, Lewis, and the great Maya Rudolph - for their own singalongs. Paul Shaffer, Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Michael Cera, and Jason Schwartzman float in and out, playing themselves or barely constructed characters. (Even the behind-the-scene crew is played by Murray collaborators, including director Sofia Coppola, who gave Murray a serious actor sheen in Lost in Translation, and cowriter Mitch Glazer, who penned the holiday classic Scrooged.) Cyrus and Clooney stop by later, when the action enters Murray's brain.
And that brain is a pretty glorious place to be. It's profane and funny and totally out of the ordinary. A Very Murray Christmas won't become a classic of the Christmas genre, but it's certainly a nice way to spend the holidays.
A Very Murray Christmas