Movie Name: How Murray Saved Christmas
Studio: Rough Draft Studios
Release Date(s): December 5, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Curmudgeon Murray Weiner runs a deli in Stinky Cigars where all the holiday figures live. When Edison Elf accidentally gives Santa Claus a concussion with Christmas coming on, Murray must step into Santa Claus’ shoes to keep Christmas from being cancelled. Murray and Edison are out to deliver the toys, but Murray has some new ideas on how Christmas should be run…and Edison discovers why Murray is so angry.
Directed by Peter Avanzino, How Murray Saved Christmas is based on the 2004 book by The Simpsons writer Mike Reiss who also wrote the script for the special. The hour-long Christmas animated musical special first aired on NBC on December 5, 2014.
There are tons of Christmas specials popping up in recent years after years of few new specials. When combined with the TV comedies and series that generally do a Christmas show, it feels like much of the month of December is a holiday-fest. How Murray Saved Christmas continues the trend but also plays with the format a bit.
How Murray Saved Christmas is making fun of Christmas specials but also is one at the same time. A lot of the plot feels borrowed from movies and shows like The Nightmare Before Christmas and even South Park. In creating a parody, the special becomes cliché itself when it tries to deliver a touching tale.
This cliché is balanced out by some talented writing which makes fun of Christmas specials, but also leads the series not to really be for children. There really isn’t anything that is bad but most of the jokes will go over kids’ heads. There is a lot of clever wordplay surrounding the rhyming including the officer who hates the whole rhyming aspect of Stinky Cigars.
The cast is quite strong with the lead voiced by Jerry Stiller and Sean Hayes playing his sidekick Einstein. Dennis Haysbert narrates the special, and Kevin Michael Richardson voices Santa Claus. Stiller’s TV son Jason Alexander provides the voice of Doc Holiday and SpongeBob himself Tom Kenny provides many of the voices along with Simpsons vet Tress MacNeil. The angry officer is played by John Ratzenberger.
The animation does remind me a lot of The Simpsons or The Critic (which also was co-created by Mike Reiss). The animation was a bit more “cartoony” than The Critic but less stylized than The Simpsons. The town of Stinky Cigars is fun in that it is loaded with tons of holidays the spot.
How Murray Saved Christmas is a nice, new entry into the holiday animated film series. Despite a typical ending, the series has no real sentimentality to it so don’t expect the warm fuzzies that are given out by Rudolph, The Grinch, or Charlie Brown…but sometimes during the holidays, you just need to laugh.