Bill Murray is a comedy legend, without argument. Even if some people don’t happen to like him it’s a guaranteed fact that he has more fans than detractors since he’s been creating comedy and making people roar with laughter for decades and still has the touch. So yes, he’s gotten older and faded out of the spotlight a bit, but the man has earned his peace and quiet when he wants it since his earlier roles and those that came during the 90s and onward were something that can be remembered fondly and watched again and again while producing the same wild gales of laughter that were felt the first time around. He’s not always funny since there are some movies in which he decides to get serious, but when he turns on the comedy it’s hard not to laugh at just his facial expressions since he gets so into what he’s doing.
He’s got so many great movies that it’s hard to pick, but here are a few of them that tend to stand out if you’ve really watched the man perform.
5. St. Vincent
This movie feels like it got tucked away somehow after being made, like a lot of his recent films from the past decade or so, but it’s one of those gems that’s so like him and yet so against character in some ways. He plays a retired gambler that has no money, is constantly dodging a loan shark, and somehow gets involved as babysitter for his new neighbor when she needs someone to watch over her son. Throughout the movie Vincent and the kid manage to develop a bond that culminates by the end into a great friendship despite the hardships they have to go through, and while Vin does change he’s still roughly the same guy.
Peter Venkman is without a doubt the mouthpiece of the Ghostbusters and the guy that tends to get them in trouble but also helps them to get out of it. If not for him Ray, Egon, and Winston would have to do their own talking and that could get kind of technical and extremely long-winded. Peter is the New Yorker that knows how to talk to people, which means he’s the front man for the group despite being a disbeliever initially. His whole role on the team, aside from catching ghosts, is to talk them up and collect the money after a job well done. He’s also the only one that really knows how to deliver a one-liner.
3. Groundhog Day
Phil is stuck in a day that just won’t end and each and every time he tries to get out of it he wakes up in his bed without a ding or a dent or, thankfully, anyone in blue wearing a gun trying to haul him off to jail. How many people would just do as they like if they were stuck in the same day and nothing mattered since it would reset after they went to bed? You can imagine just how far some people would take it and how desperate some folks would be to get out after a while. It’d be interesting to learn just how many days Phil spent in this movie trying to get everything right, since it would seem that he’d have to spend months if not much longer just getting a few things down.
There are guys that simply shouldn’t go into the military and then there are guys you have to look at as you wonder how in the world they got in. At one point and time the military might have taken just about anyone they could so long as they were physically fit enough to put through basic training. But in this film there was no draft and there was no impending war so it’s kind of hard to imagine a lot of these guys making it through boot camp in one piece. More to the point the movie is thankfully kind of a spoof since most guys that pulled the stuff Murray did would likely be tossed out on their ear with a dishonorable discharge.
The funny part about this movie is something that doesn’t get shown except in the extras section of a DVD. Chevy Chase and Bill Murray didn’t always get along during the filming of this picture and would constantly try to upstage one another. Given that they were both SNL alums you would think that they might bury their differences and just make the movie. But it was more apparent that they were trying to outdo one another at times for their own reasons. Murray however was just as classic of a character as Chase as Groundskeeper Carl provided numerous laughs while Ty Webb was funny in an absent-minded kind of way.
He’s beyond legend status to be honest, he’s become an example of what it means to transcend the comedian role altogether.