Miley Cyrus Is This Year's Pop Culture Christmas Angel

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Here’s the key to a perfect Christmas bash: Miley Cyrus.

Cyrus shows up — and is totally delightful — in not one, but two pieces of holiday entertainment this year. In The Night Before, currently in theaters, she appears at the top-secret Christmas Eve party that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie’s characters attend. She even teams up with JGL on a “Wrecking Ball” duet to help him win over his ex, played by Lizzy Caplan.

She also appears in Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas, singing yuletide tunes alongside Bill Murray (of course) and George Clooney (really!). The special is available to stream today.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, A Very Murray Christmas is a pleasantly random treat. The barely-there story line mostly exists as an excuse for famous and hipster-famous people to sing carols and holiday pop. Murray, playing a version of himself, is supposed to do a live TV special from New York's Carlyle hotel, but a snowstorm prevents anyone from coming. After the power goes out and the show gets canceled, Murray bonds with the hotel’s staff and other guests. He sings “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Jenny Lewis, who plays a bartender. (Lewis and Murray were rumored to be dating at one point. Though they apparently are not, this might inspire some fan fiction.) Rashida Jones and Jason Schwartzman show up as a couple whose wedding was canceled because of the weather and who need to rekindle their love. Maya Rudolph belts out “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” in spectacular fashion. Paul Shaffer serves as the accompanist for the evening, making us really miss David Letterman’s annual Christmas episodes.

Following a rousing performance “Fairytale of New York,” Murray passes out and dreams that he's starring in a perfectly polished Christmas special filmed on a bright soundstage, with Rockette-esque dancers, Clooney, and Cyrus. Cyrus wears a slinky Santa outfit, but doesn’t affect her familiar high-as-the-sky persona. (There’s only a hint of tongue.) Instead, she just sings the hell out of songs like "Sleigh Ride" and “Silent Night.” The latter number is her biggest triumph, serving as your annual reminder that, antics aside, Cyrus really is a talented performer and doesn't need much fanfare to be impressive. In fact, the most surreal element of the whole sequence is Clooney peaking out from behind a gleaming white Christmas tree to sing backup vocals for Murray on "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'."

A Very Murray Christmas is melancholic at times, but not particularly deep. It's a fun bit of celebrity-driven, artfully shot ephemera that will be great to play on low volume at a holiday party. But you may want to crank it when Cyrus is on the screen. Or better yet? Just invite her to your gathering. She's bound to make it a good time.
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