Rating: The Good – 88.9 Genre: Comedy Duration: 98 mins Director: Harold Ramis Stars: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield
If Caddyshack was merely a reflection of the sum of its parts, those parts (top comedic actors, original premise, tremendous script, outstanding soundtrack, and a great comedy director) are of such high quality that the film would still rank as a comedy classic. However, the film transcends the sum of those parts to become one of the most enjoyable movie watching experiences. Set in the hilarious Bushwood Country Club, the movie follows its caddies, the rich eccentrics they caddy for, and the various staff including its unstable groundskeeper as they go about their ridiculous daily business. Michael O’Keefe is perfect in the lead as the likable but cheeky Danny Noonan but this movie is as much if not more about the supporting cast of comedic heavyweights. Ted Knight is a riot as Judge Smails, Rodney Dangerfield finds the perfect vehicle for his unique brand of humour (“hey lady, you wanna make 14 dollars the hard way?”) while Chevy Chase’s Ty Webb is Chase at his skewed and improvisational best. Best of all though is Murray as the deranged groundskeeper Carl. This is easily one of his best performances and one of the most off the wall eccentric characters you’ll find in any film. From his “kill all the golfers” line to “you wore green so you could hide” Murray will have you howling with laughter for the full 90 mins and beyond. The quantifiable magic that occurs when every aspect of a movie comes together in perfect harmony is something we rarely encounter in life so let’s just be eternally thankful that Caddyshack is with us. “In the words of Jean Paul Sartre: au revoir”.
Rating: The Good – 78.3 Genre: Comedy Duration: 116 mins Director: Sydney Pollack Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Bill Murray
Producer: “I’d like to make her a little more attractive. How far can you pull back?”, Cameraman: “How do you feel about Cleveland?”. Great comedy fare that hasn’t aged a day in terms of its humor. Dustin Hoffman stars as an out of work actor who in desperation for a job dresses up as a middle-aged woman and auditions for a part on a day-time soap, General Hospital. Hoffman is excellent as both the struggling actor and disguised woman and he’s surrounded by top pros such as Jessica Lange, Geena Davis, Charles Durning, and of course Bill Murray (in a rare minor role). Sydney Pollack proves a dab hand at the comedy and his timing and framing of the funnier moments is spot on. It all builds up to a cracking ending which has lost none of its comic punch over the years. “That is one nutty hospital”.
Rating: The Good – 68.9 Genre: Comedy Duration: 106 mins Director: Ivan Reitman Stars: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy
Bill Murray and Harold Ramis team up as two layabouts who join the army in order to get some discipline only to find it a lot more work than they had figured. Directed by Ivan Reitman, the humour is very much of its era with lots of wacky scenarios but there are still many laughs to be had here. Murray has been much better but even at half steam he’s still the funniest man on the screen. Ramis is a good foil for Murray but does well on his own also. Stripes is one of those films that is very easy to watch particularly if you’re already in a good mood so just sit back and let it happen.
Rating: The Good – 76.4 Genre: Comedy Duration: 89 mins Director: Howard Franklin and Bill Murray Stars: Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid
With films like Groundhog Day and Caddyshack on Bill Murray’s CV, it’s very easy to forget this little gem even if it isn’t too far behind the aforementioned in skill, craft, and outrageousness. Murray plays a bank robber who dresses up as a clown in order to pull off the perfect bank robbery and finally escape the hell that is his life in New York. Murray’s performance is straight out of the top drawer even for him as his instinctive timing and awareness makes every line unforgettable. He is helped by an awesome assortment of comedy greats some with important roles and some with perfectly placed cameos. Counted amongst the former are Geena Davis (as his girlfriend), Randy Quaid (as his buddy), and the legendary Jason Robards in a hysterical performance as the chief of police who takes charge of the manhunt. Counted amongst the latter are Phil Hartman, Stanley Tucci, Philip Bosco, Kurtwood Smith, and best of all Tony Shalhoub as the cab driver who keeps asking them where they are going. Quick Change is one of those perfect comedies where the great set pieces (e.g., Quaid jumping out of the cab) are complemented with a seemingly endless series of little flourishes such as Robards inexplicably holding his deputy’s hand or Murray mimicking the mobster “nobody does that to Mrs Russ Crane”, so many in fact that you’ll see something new every time you watch it. Murray not only co-wrote the screenplay for this minor masterpiece but also shared the directing duties with his co-writer Howard Franklin. “Oh, they’re *on* a blufftoney.”
Rating: The Good – 76.7 Genre: Comedy Duration: 105 mins Director: Ivan Reitman Stars: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver
“When someone asks you ‘Are you a God?’, you say ‘Yes!!’” Although it’s been mainly remembered as nothing more than an enjoyable children’s film, Ivan Reitman’s film was written by and starred the golden generations of both Saturday Night Live and SCTV. The result is a totally original, unbelievably witty, and eminently quotable landmark in movie history. Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray play three scientists who make a name for themselves as paranormal investigators and exterminators who go into business just in time for a major paranormal event to hit New York city. Overt humour, subtle humour, legendary comedy actors, unique story, groundbreaking special effects, and one of the most memorable movie soundtracks, Ghostbusters has it all. The three leads are perfect in their assigned roles and their long established understanding of each other gives their on-screen relationships real depth. Throw Sigourney Weaver into the mix as one of their clients and romantic interest for Murray’s legendary Dr. Venckman and there you have it. “Back off man, I’m a scientist.”
Rating: The Good – 84.3 Genre: Comedy Duration: 101 mins Director: Harold Ramis Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Clever script built around an original idea, populated with an array of intriguing characters, and Bill Murray’s best performance. What more could you ask for in a comedy? Murray plays Phil Connors, a weatherman who is sent begrudgingly to Punksatony to cover the annual groundhog festival only to find that he must live the same excruciating day over and over again. The dialogue is razor sharp and the comedy veterans (from Murray to Chris Elliot) have a field day with their lines while Andie MacDowell plays off the more seasoned comedians in fine manner. On top of which, Harold Ramis adds to the humour by finding ever funnier ways to counteract the habituation to each of the day’s repeated events and even manages to find the humour in that repetitiveness (the morning wake up song being a particularly good example of such). Moreover, he adds a real depth to the proceedings by slowing the pace of the film towards the end of the second act to accentuate the poignancy of Connor’s existential conundrum. Of course, Groundhog Day is built on the strength of Murray’s performance and considering that he is perhaps the most intuitively funny actor to have ever graced the silver screen, it is no small thing to say this is his finest performance. Murray brings all his dead-pan wit and world weariness to bear in his portrayal of the disgruntled weatherman and in doing so gives us a hilarious performance that scores on an array of comedic levels. It is nothing short of perfection.
Rating: The Good – 77 Genre: Comedy Duration: 101 mins Director: Richard Donner Stars: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe
Richard Donner’s take on the old Dickens’ fable is one of the great Christmas comedies and has Bill Murray is in blistering form as the cynical and uncaring TV executive Frank Cross who gets visited by three ghosts….well you know the rest. Murray’s roles are typically a lot less restrictive in terms of personality requirements allowing the comedy maestro to have a field day with improvisation. However, even though a modern day Scrooge is inevitably a more prescriptive role, Murray still manages to improvise a whole raft of playful mannerisms and idiosyncratic personality dimensions that remain perfectly in line with the bad-ass Frank Cross. There isn’t a facial expression or eye-movement on Murray’s part that’s unintentional and the film is much the richer for it. The ghosts of Christmas past (David Johansen) and present (Carol Kane) are a riot while Karen Allen is great value as Cross’ old squeeze. Scrooged is one of the few comedies that doesn’t fade as it heads towards the end. Instead, it changes tack and becomes really quite uplifting – especially if you watch it on Christmas Eve!
Rating: The Good – 76.6 Genre: Comedy Duration: 99 mins Director: Frank Oz Stars: Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty
Bob (Bill Murray) is afraid of everything but that’s not the biggest problem he presents to his new psychiatrist Leo (Richard Dreyfuss) who can’t seem to get rid of him even while on vacation. This movie hails from a far less formulaic time as far as comedies are concerned and its lack of pretension and reliance on well made jokes and a tidy premise is refreshing. It’s not one of Bill Murray’s funniest performances but even at half throttle he’ll still bring a smile to your face. Furthermore, if there’s any slack, Richard Dreyfuss is on hand to pick it up. Dreyfuss is one of the few straight actors who can do comedy with an easy naturalness and he more than holds his own against Murray. In fact, his own unique brand of frantic humour drives the best moments in the movie and truth be told, his Dr. Leo is one of that era’s funnier characters. Frank Oz is a dab hand at these kind of comedies and his light-hearted approach combined with Miles Goodman’s mischievous score ensures What About Bob? remains perfectly pitched throughout. If you’re in the mood for some easy laughs, you could do a hell of a lot worse!