“What’s so memorable about a clown stealing a million dollars?”
Considering that clown is Bill Murray under the make up who has surrounded himself with a winning team of actors in the only film he ever scored a directing credit makes it rather memorable in my books.
Bill is credited as a co-director on the film along with Howard Franklin who is also the credited screenwriter. Using that dry wit and ever prone to throwing away one liners, Bill gets the plot moving right along walking into a bank in full clown mode with guns and TNT strapped to his chest under the costume. It’ll take a gun firing a couple rounds before anyone inside the bank takes him serious. Bill keeps it rather calm as he guides everyone into the vault which includes an elderly guard who wants to retire in one piece, a suit and tie weasel that reminds me of the one who tried to negotiate his way out from under Alan Rickman in Die Hard to no avail and a couple of other people you’re sure to recognize under some comical make-up jobs.
Randy Quaid sporting a paste on beard does nothing but cry and vomit under the pressure while Geena Davis gives it a go as a tough talking blonde with a pronounced bosom on display that Bill is quite keen on noticing. Next up is the police chief who wants his man as his political career may be at risk. It’s Jason Robards taking the role and he’s out to get his man. Bill of course has Robards running in circles bringing in a chopper, a Harley, an oversized Monster Truck and a city bus. For each item he’s willing to give up a hostage. And who might they be? How about his associates Miss Davis and Cousin Eddie himself who have thousands of dollars in cash strapped to themselves. Not to be forgotten is Murray himself as a released hostage in further make up and loaded with cash.
The threesome will quietly exit the crime scene that has been set up to look like a tail gate party in a comical variation on Dog Day Afternoon. While they’re off and running to the airport dreaming of sunny weather, Robards decides to storm the bank when Murray appears to have gone silent. It might take a little time but the two time Oscar winner, Robards, is about to realize he’s been duped by what he thought were the first three hostages to be released. He’s ready to shut down New York to get his man with the funny make-up.
A good portion of the film will rely on the comical situations the trio of bank robbers find themselves in while trying to get out of the Big Apple. They’re escape quickly becomes a comedy of errors as they try to find an entrance from city streets to a highway. They get carjacked, held at gunpoint by Phil Hartman, find themselves in a cab with a non English speaking driver played by Tony Shalhoub and even run afoul of local mobsters, Stanley Tucci and Kurtwood Smith. There’s also a hilarious turn here by a straight faced Philip Bosco as a tough talking by the book city bus driver, “Get Behind the white line.”
Clocking in at a fast 88 minutes, this comical venture plays funny with the quartet of above the title actors. You could almost call it a road trip adventure as our would be thieves attempt to get from the bank to the airport while staying one step ahead of our intrepid police chief. A road trip well worth taking for those looking for some fun escapism or just like the cast included under Bill’s guiding hand.
Injected in to the film are some bits of comedy that strike my funny bone just right though I’m not sure what they really have to do with the plot. Best of all is when the trio are looking for directions to the airport they come across a religious ceremony where two men on bicycles are about to do battle as if they are jousting knights on horseback carrying lances. Big difference is our two bikers are holding gardening tools as they peddle towards each other. LOVED IT.
Looking back at this film for the first time since seeing it on VHS upon it’s initial release to the home video market, I’m reminded of just why I had a crush on Geena Davis. Yup, I’ll admit it and for those that jumped all over her big budget pirate flick, Cutthroat Island, give it another go. I’ve always felt it was unfairly maligned even though they did fire the legendary Oliver Reed off the production. I wonder why????
Murray would work with co-director Franklin again in the future. They’d team for Larger Than Life and The Man Who Knew Too Little. Lesser works than this effort to be sure. It’s also a chance to go back to a time when Randy Quaid was one of the premiere and in demand character actors. He’d long been an actor I was attuned to since my early days thanks to his appearing in films like Breakout, The Long Riders, The Last Detail and of course Vacation.
In closing give this one a look and remember, “Please hold on to your transfer, you need a transfer to re-board… “