a very murray christmas

Director: Sofia Coppola

Genre: Comedy

Release: 2015

Give Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola carte blanche and the expected result ought to be comedy gold, but as Netflix has proven, it’s mostly just a bunch of famous people sitting in a lounge, stupidly joking around in between vapid takes of them singing a tune or two whenever the director yells action. This time Coppola and Murray share screen credits for a cynical foray into Christmas celebration. Yay? Nay. Rarely does a film start with as much promise as Netflix’s latest festive outing, only to turn into a cameo-laden waste of time.

a very murray christmas thanks for set ms poehler

“Thanks for coming on set Ms. Poehler, please leave now, Chris Rock will be here in a minute”

With Murray at the forefront playing his classic, self-deprecating persona, Coppola starts her film as a meta-critique on the culture of televised Christmas specials, flirting with the hypothetical scenario that none of the guest celebrities showed up to Murray’s taping. While this sounds like an entertaining premise, the fundamental problem with A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS is that this plot stops to exist roughly after the first 20 minutes. In fact, the film loses its narrative balance to such a degree that demarcating act breaks is literally impossible. The initially cynical banter between Murray, Amy Poehler, and Chris Rock turns sarcastically jovial until it ultimately stops having any narrative congruence. What starts off as a promising, endearing, and honestly quite humorous premise is thus promptly thrust into the fireplace as soon as Chris Rock exits frame, leading to a frenzy of musical cues that ultimately turn the film into exactly the television special it initially attempted to mock.

a very murray christmas mily christmas table

Miley Cyrus + Her Old Petz

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS is not clever, nor is it entertaining. The vaguely festive Christmas cheer causes the film to fall into an odd position that makes one wonder if Coppola just walked off set after the first 20 minutes and left the rest of the production in the hands of a set PA that knew a handful of Christmas carols. The one-hour runtime only validates that it is nothing other than a TV special, and the sudden deletion of any identifiable conflict kills off any dramatic interest in the film, so maybe it’s pointless to criticize the film of this in the first place. It is willfully disinterested in being a narrative motion picture.

a very murray christmas santa claus loving

Admittedly, this is the pinnacle

Ultimately, maybe all of these points serve to validate that A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS really isn’t a film and that it shouldn’t be graded as one. But if that’s the case, it should be filled with entertaining holiday songs, and even that isn’t really true. It doesn’t succeed on any front, but instead does a haphazard job at being both a narrative film and sing-along within its brief runtime. Surely one can have the film playing in the background as the family digs into the Christmas ham, but there’s certainly more elegantly performed music somewhere out there in the ether. In a way, A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS is this holiday’s perfect TV dinner, satisfying the alcoholic dad who doesn’t want to be bothered by his family, the impatient ADD-ridden teenager, and the disappointed mother who just wants to hear a jingle before putting the kids to bed for Santa’s arrival.

Verdict: Do Not Recommend

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS is available to watch on Netflix

"When I make love, I realize eating steak was the preferable alternative." Sergio is the Crossfader Film Editor and a film connoisseur from Romania. He pretends to understand culinary culture enough to call himself an LA foodie, but he just can't manage to like scallops.

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