How Murray Saved Christmas (2014)

how murray saved christmas poster 2014 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, some decent laughs

Story feels a bit like other modern Christmas stories, not really for kids

Movie Info

Movie Name:  How Murray Saved Christmas

Studio:  Universal Animation Studios

Genre(s):  Animated/Seasonal/Comedy

Release Date(s):  December 5, 2014

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Yep…Christmas is screwed

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.  It received a Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics (“You Gotta Believe”).

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.


I’m going to slap you, elf…

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.


Do you know how fast your sled was going?

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.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

One Comment on "How Murray Saved Christmas (2014)"

  1. Mike Sherman March 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Condemned by “Common Sense” which sounds like a religious group to me. Offensive to no one at all unless you have a really vivid imagination. Silly and cute, that’s all. I loved it.

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