Review: Cyrus saves the day in Murray holiday special

Tom Long
The Detroit News

“A Very Murray Christmas” is fun in a post-modern ironic sort of way for the first five minutes or so.

Then the joke drags on for another 30 minutes and it’s not so fun.

At which point Miley Cyrus and George Clooney show up and it becomes fantastic.

So this Netflix original holiday special, molded in the corny form of television holiday specials past, is something of a perseverance test. Can you make it through to the good stuff?

The set-up: Bill Murray is supposed to host a holiday special in a New York City hotel, but a blizzard has shut down the city and none of his guests are able to get there. After singing a nice blues number (accompanied by a superb Paul Shaffer), Murray tries to do the show anyway, but then the power goes out.

So Murray retires to the bar, where he sings carols with a motley crew of assembled celebrities — Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, David Johansen (!), Jenny Lewis — over cocktails and shots. Some of these people can sing, some of them — ouch! True, that was the way with many TV holidays specials, but why roll around in it?

Then Murray passes out and dreams the holiday special that could have been: Cyrus belting out songs while Clooney mixes martinis on Shaffer’s snow white piano, with Murray croaking along. It’s hard to figure out why director Sofia Coppola didn’t go for this engaging, polished approach for the whole special.

The show certainly has plenty of diverse star power — Chris Rock, Amy Poehler and Michael Cera also appear along the way — but its shaggy approach wears thin until Cyrus shows up. Then again, save the best gift for last.

‘A Very Murray Christmas’


Debuts today