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IN SHORT: Murray's best in years.
As baseball hall of famer Yogi Berra once said, "It's like deja vu all over again." Deja vu'ing back a couple of months: Early on in the Michael Douglas' failure The Game, Sean Penn says he played said Game in London. In Bill Murray's latest flick, The Man Who Knew Too Little, we are in London watching a similar "theater of life" play itself out, but there's no sinister corporation running things. It's all run by a small theater company who set up a premise and then quickly disappear from the scene in favor of a remarkably funny parody of spy flicks.
Why is it remarkable? It's remarkable because Bill Murray has performed variations of the same shtick for years, ranging from moronic to smarmy. Most of the time, it just wasn't funny to Cranky. The Man Who Knew Too Little starts off on a similar note. Wallace Ritchie (Murray) arrives in London and, rather than simply answering a pair of standard questions from the Customs man with simple answers, launches into a meandering telling of his life story and other such nonsense. It's an old gag, but this Murray character pulls it off, 'cuz he's different from what we expect.
Wally is not a moron. He's not full of himself. He's just an average, ordinary, Blockbuster video employee from Des Moines Iowa celebrating his birthday by surprising younger brother James (Peter Gallagher), a mortgaged to the hilt banking exec. When Wally shows up, James is about to conclude a major deal with "the Germans" and doesn't want his unslick bro messing things up. So he buys Wally a ticket to a real time, "real life" play called "Theater of Life." It begins with a phone call on a public street.
Except that at the very same phone booth, at almost the very same time, a call comes in with instructions for a hit man. From that point on, everything gets hysterically confused. Wally thinks he is supposed to play the part of a mysterious hit man. He is supposed to team with a mysterious gal (Joanne Whalley) from the "I'm not a call girl I just needed the money" school of sidekicks. He is supposed to avoid a Russian killer code-named "the Butcher" (Alfred Molina) and, to top it all off, Wally always insists that he can do better on the second take.
Which is all you have to know, 'cuz I've already told you enough to make you run the hell the other way. As stupid as it sounds, and as stupid as some of the gags may seem, it's all Murray and it's all funny.
How funny was it? Those of you who read these things regularly already know that Cranky has a miserable excuse for a back. 90 minutes cackling at Bill Murray brought more pain free relief than two prescription strength pain killers and a bottle of wine.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for The Man Who Knew Too Little, he would have paid . . .
A good date flick. Good for the big screen. Great for the telly.
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