Tag Archive: Bill Murray movies


murray

Tomorrow night Public Television stations will broadcast Sunday’s Kennedy Center ceremony honoring Bill Murray for his unique blend of comedy and social commentary.  The Mark Twain Prize, first given to Richard Pryor in 1998, is the nation’s top honor for comedians.  Everything’s coming up roses for Murray this week as his favorite team the Chicago Cubs gained their first win of this year’s World Series, and Murray was a trending topic for a photo he took in Scotland in 2012 wailing with a toddler–a photo mistaken for Tom Hanks by many.

The 2016 awards event features Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver, and David Letterman, among several other celebrities mildly roasting the actor/comedian/golfer/celebrity and saluting his work.  In the show Murray gives his own salute to one of his five brothers, the well-known character actor Brian Doyle-Murray.  Two other brothers, Joel and John, are also actors.

So what’s Murray’s best work?  Is it his classic comedy skits or Weekend Update work on Saturday Night Live?  Or his assistant groundskeeper from Caddyshack?  What about his Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters?  You can’t forget his Army soldier John Winger in Stripes.  Or how about his weatherman in Groundhog Day?

caddyshack

Murray is known for continuing to surprise us.  Like when he earned an Academy Award nomination for his drama Lost in Translation, when he played Dustin Hoffman’s friend in the Oscar winning Tootsie, and when he gave us his own take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Scrooged, portraying FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson, and a war hero in Monuments Men.

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Bill Murray St Vincent

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.

Murray and cat

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?

St Vincent Bill Murray

Look at the great slate of co-stars: an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy, and Iron Man’s Terrence Howard.

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Bill Murray not in Stripes

It’s not a title that, by itself, will draw crowds to the theater.  But how often does a movie have much more than one reason to get you into the theater to see it?  Maybe its an actor you love, a genre, the fact it is based on a book or property you’re interested in.  The Monuments Men, with its first trailer released this past week, has almost too many reasons to see it to count.  “In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renowned works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.”  Yep, it’s not about Mount Rushmore.  So let’s take a quick look at what this movie has to offer, to bring in viewers for different reasons.

Everyone is always trying to make a war movie that’s not a war movie, add some twist to the genre to make it slightly different to entice new crowds to give war movies a try.  Saving Private Ryan tried it, making a war movie into more of a kidnapping film with the modern trend toward challenging the components of war vs the old Frank Capra-type pro-nationalism films.  And how unique was Quentin Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds?  In fact, if Brad Pitt hadn’t starred in that movie, you’d think he’d have been a shoo-in for The Monuments Men.  Why?  Because with George Clooney and Matt Damon in pursuit of a seemingly impossible goal, this looks like Ocean’s Eleven all over again.

John Goodman Monuments Men

And speaking of impossible goals, this also looks like The Dirty Dozen, although the trailer tells us there’s eight soldiers engaged in this mission.  Who isn’t ready for another movie of the Dirty Dozen variety?  Remember how good the beginning of Captain America: The First Avenger was with Tommy Lee Jones as a general in the World War II recruitment scenes?  Or go back to Bridge on the River Kwai and recruiting William Holden to go back to the battle.  Of course these are all plays on the original Western recruiting warriors film, Seven Samurai.  And just look who gets recruited for this new mission.

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Bill Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

No matter how many dramatic roles Bill Murray gets behind him, fans of his big comedic roles in Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Scrooged will always have a double take when he tries something new–even after notable dramatic turns in a pile of Wes Anderson movies including The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and an Oscar-worthy performance in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.  But an iconic role like FDR?  It may make sense in the context of Hyde Park on Hudson, an irreverent look at arguably the best and most revered President in U.S. history.  But every major figure must have his/her scandal movie.

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