I am a self-proclaimed devoted fan of Sofia Coppola, so much so, that her films were the subject of my Masters dissertation. As such, it should be noted that I watched A Very Murray Christmas with the full expectation that I would enjoy it. It should also be noted that I am a firm believer in Christmas films getting a pass when it comes to cliché or saccharine moments as long as they are tinged with a certain element of self-awareness. As such, Christmas 24 is my personal idea of hell, whilst Home Alone or The Muppet Christmas Carol fill me with joy during the holiday season. Thus a film, which is knowingly meta whilst maintaining a heartfelt approach to the season, is certain to please me.
Bill Murray is holed up in a hotel, preparing to partake in a Christmas TV show. The blizzard raging outside has resulted in a distinct lack of guests appearing and Murray is concerned that the show, which should have featured the likes of George Clooney and the Pope in the audience, will fall decidedly flat.
After a stilted performance with Chris Rock (who Murray has forced to participate despite Rock’s assertions that he can neither sing nor dance) the power to the hotel goes out and Murray retires to the bar. It is here that he meets various celebrities in a variety of guises who end up singing traditional holiday songs with Murray (told you it was meta). Thus, Murray meets Rashida Jones, playing a bride upset due to the cancellation of her wedding, before meeting her fiancé Jason Schwartman. Similarly Maya Rudolph stars as a lounge singer, and David Johansen is a bartender. The various stars are all clearly enjoying their role, and this shows through their performances: each of which is thoroughly enjoyable.
Written by Murray, Coppola and Mitch Glazer, A Very Murray Christmas already feels likes a classic, largely due to the confident manner in which the film is carried out. The meta references may, in the hands of a lesser director, have fallen flat, but here the knowing wink to the audience helps to further imbue the film with delight.