On Netflix, there’s an attempt to recapture the spirit of Christmas TV specials. This comes close, in so far as it’s every bit as naff as they used to be, but it’s also tinged with an insincerity that makes it kind of nasty and horridly self-indulgent.
Bill Murray (sort of) plays a sour-faced, reluctant star about to do a Christmas special at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan in A Very Murray Christmas *. Only there’s a blizzard and the audience can’t get there. So they all end up in the bar, getting drunk and doing some carols, badly.
It’s directed by Sofia Coppola with very little brio. She gets Murray to sing, as she did in Lost in Translation, but without any of the sadness that made that karaoke in Japan scene so touching. She also gets her cousin Jason Schwartzman along, as well as Rashida Jones (she and Jason vaguely play a couple whose wedding at the hotel has been cancelled by the snow), Chris Rock (in a cameo so unfunny, they can’t think of a punchline and have to make him disappear during a power cut).
There’s also Sofia’s husband’s band Phoenix, who play French waiters in the kitchen, summoned to suddenly do a little house band number (not a bad tune at all, only Murray ruins it by dicking about on backing vocals.)
Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler add to the ex-Saturday Night Live roster and George Clooney shows up in a previously filmed segment, looking so pissed off and embarrassed that he spends his short cameo mostly hidden behind a Christmas tree. Arriving with Clooney in his sleigh is Miley Cyrus in a Santa mini dress, and she twirls around a bit with George and Bill – it’s pretty yukky. Only, she then belts out a solo Silent Night sitting on top of Paul Shaffer’s white piano and for a moment, sincerity returns and it feels a bit like Christmas. A Very Miley Christmas – now there’s an idea for a show….