It’s been a long time since a Bill Murray movie really clicked, an undisputed, resounding hit. Something that highlights why we first loved this actor who got his big break on Saturday Night Live, then was propelled to movie star with Caddyshack, Stripes, and Ghostbusters. Meanwhile he started a dramatic career, with hints of a serious guy even in Meatballs, as an actor in Tootsie, with the lead in a Dickens adaptation in Scrooged, and that all seemed to peak with his role again as another actor in Lost in Translation, which earned an Academy Award nomination.
Another not-ready-for-prime-time player, Steve Martin, took a similar path. Following SNL he was easily recognizable for one of the bigger cameos in The Muppet Movie, but had his break-out role for movie stardom with The Jerk. He had some snoozers, followed by funnier fare with All of Me, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. But his dramatic turn came with Roxanne, an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, and seemed to leave comedy behind with L.A. Story, Grand Canyon--which earned him an Academy Award nomination, A Simple Twist of Fate, The Spanish Prisoner, and Shopgirl.
Both Murray and Martin had mid-range successes and returns to all-out comedies, Murray with What About Bob?, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Rushmore, Get Smart and City of Ember. Martin with HouseSitter and Bringing Down the House. Will either of these guys return to all-out comedies?
Unless you’re a fan of his Wes Anderson films, you may be someone who thinks the last great comedy Bill Murray has done was Groundhog Day, 21 years ago back in 1993. But every time another comedy features Murray, loyal fans come back again to see what he has for us.
Might the next funny Murray flick be St. Vincent?
Look at the great slate of co-stars: an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy, and Iron Man’s Terrence Howard.
At first blush, St. Vincent looks just like the new TV series “About a Boy.” It also looks like St. Vincent de Van Nuys might be Murray’s take on Clint Eastwood’s grumpy old man in Gran Torino. And it also looks like a modern Dennis the Menace. And is that a speck of father-son relationship like Bruce Willis had with Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense? Can Murray pull off grumpy and negative, like Steve Martin’s Neal Page in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, or even something better than his own dark villain waiting to be redeemed in Scrooged?
Check out this trailer for Murray’s next comedy out of the gates, St. Vincent:
St. Vincent is scheduled for release in theaters October 24, 2014.