Friday, November 12, 2010



I won't go into why, but today I thought I heard that Bill Murray was dead. I misheard, fortunately. But it me think again about one of the only actors working today that will inspire my attendance, just because he's in the film (unless it's a new Garfield movie, of course.)
Most Saturday Night veterans have a hard time sustaining a long team film career. Chevy Chase made some good funny films after a year on the show and then went on to make truly heinous ones. (Fortunately, he is funny again on Community after years of anti-funny following Christmas Vacation.) Dan Aykroyd's last good film was in 1997 (Gross Point Blank), Eddie Murphy's 1999 (Bowfinger) and Mike Myers has had over a decade since the first Austin Powers film. (I found Shrek to be funny, but Murphy and Myers have long since killed the good will for that film with lousy sequels and TV specials.)
But Murray is arguably the third funniest screen personality after Buster Keaton and the combined Marx brothers.

So my top ten:

1) Phil Conners in GROUNDHOG'S DAY - A very thoughtful film and a very profound film.
It was voted by some group or other as the most spiritual film. But still a very funny film.
Phil is a weather man but more importantly, a jerk. But the process of living the same day again and again makes a better man of him. Murray manages the transformation of redemption quite ably (much better than in SCROOGED.)
Quote: People like blood sausage too, people are morons.

2) Carl Spackler in CADDYSHACK - Perhaps Murray's most insane character, the ground's keeper with a vendetta against a gopher (that looks like a groundhog.)
Quote: So I've got that going for me.

2)Jeff Slater in TOOTSIE - Another comic masterpiece. Murray plays a small role as Michael's (Dustin Hoffman) boyfriend. But he steals much of the picture playing the straight (in many ways) man.
Quote: That is one nutty hospital.

3) Bill Murray in ZOMBIELAND - One of the great cameos. Of course he would survive a zombie apocalypse out of sheer coolness and laid back disposition.
Quote: Garfield, maybe.

4)Dr. Peter Venkman in GHOSTBUSTERS - The character Phil in the show Modern Family tries to prove bravery by bragging about how many times he watched this film. There are a few scary special effects, but basically the film is just hysterical. Venkman is described as a game show host in the film and he does achieve that level of smarminess.
Qoute: Yes, the man has no neck. (That's the TV dubbed version of the line. The line in the film is about a thousand times better.)

5) Herman Blume in RUSHMORE - This is the film in which critics began to recognize the genius of Murray. It was always there, but they finally started to figure out that he wasn't just funny. (But funny is plenty.) A man in a romantic rivalry with a high schooler could be just sad, but it is so much more.
Quote: She's my Rushmore.

6) Bob Harris in LOST IN TRANSLATION - I believe this is the only Murray film that was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. He was actually talked about for Best Actor, but the Academy does not have that much sense.
He was hard to believe as a Big Hollywood Action Star, but he was quite believable in his tender interaction with Scarlet Johannson.
Qoute: Whatever he whispered into Scarlet's ear.

7) Frank Quinn in GET LOW - Bill Murray, one of the great comic actors versus Robert Duvall, one of the great comic actors. So much fun to see them together. His funeral director gives Murray another chance to showcase his patented world weariness and cynicism.
Qoute: I sold 26 of the the ugliest cars in the middle of December with the wind blowing so far up my ass I was farting snowflakes into July.

8) Bunny Breckinridge in ED WOOD - This role almost makes it based on the name alone. But this tale of the world's worst director is Tim Burton's best film. Bunny, you may not be surprised, is not a terribly masculine character. A small role again, but wonderful.
Quote:What about glitter? When I was a headliner in Paris, audiences always liked it when I sparkled.

9) Tripper in MEATBALLS - Yes, imaginary reader (I don't want you, or me, to think I'm so delusional as to think someone reads this after I write it) you are wondering where is STRIPES? That is a better film than MEATBALLS, but his character has funnier lines in this film. Especially in the morning announcements.
Quote: Kids are starving in India and you're walking around with a sombrero full of peanuts.

10) Badger in FANTASTIC MR. FOX - I was going to rant about how Bill Murray should never do voiceover work because of GARFIELD and OSMOSIS JONES, but this makes the list. His second film on the list with Wes Anderson, but there are good Anderson films that didn't even make the list. A film starring in a film makes an awesome film. But his small parts often manage to make a film awesome as well.
Quote: The cuss you are.

I don't think there is another Saturday Night Live star that has ten great films. And Murray has more good films that did not make this list. Very cool.

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