'The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man' Theatrical and VOD: When Legendary Comedian Crashes Your Party, You Tell Him He's A God
Gravitas Ventures fully embraces its awesome pop culture documentary side with the current theatrical run of "The Bill Murray Stories" Life Lessons From a Mythical Man" This film additionally hits VOD platforms on October 26, 2018. "Murray" perfectly represents similar fare that currently is reviewed on Unreal TV 1.0 and will make its way to Unreal TV 2.0 in November 2018.
Writer/director Tommy Avallone investigating reports of Murray being a modern-day Mary Poppins who shows up completely unexpected and spreads joy before vanishing into the night or the afternoon perfectly blends old and new school.
Tweens and teens of the '70s and '80s have fond memories of first watching Murray display his comedic nerdy and swarmy sides in the early days of "SNL" (Nee "Saturday Night Live.") We then see him join Tom Hanks in playing oddball goofballs in '80s comedy films that make us long for that Silver Age of big screen humor.
ANY boy born between 1960 and 1970 who does not include "Ghostbusters," "Stripes," "Meatballs," "Caddyshack," and "Groundhog Day" ("What About Bob" is optional) on his list of 100 favorite movies deserves to have his lunch money taken away and being given an atomic nudgie in 2018.
The new school element enters the picture (pun intended) regarding the manner in which the tales of Murray spread. Social media reports and online videos of Murray jamming with a band at a house party, reading poetry at a construction site, thrilling fans at a baseball game, etc. spread these urban legends faster than tales that involve a friend of a friend at camp or a guy who lives in the same college dorm as an older sibling. Canadian girlfriends from camp are an especially rich source of this lore.
The similarities between the Murray stories and the '70s and '80s sitcom "Alice" contribute another old school element. An occasional plot in that series revolves around a waitress being alone in the diner in which the show is set when a celebrity playing himself or herself unexpectedly stops by. The "com" related to this "sit" centers around the server trying to convince co-workers that the tale of the encounter is true,
A new school aspect is the current weekly NPR news quiz "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." The central concept of this series is having contestants try to determine which of three news reports on a particular subject is true,
The Murray stories may have been a topic on "Wait Wait," If so, the following reports may have been the options. Murray appeared on a street in Cleveland on Halloween night and joined a family for trick-or-treating; Murray showed up at an Austin watering hole and began tending bar; Murray appeared at a Safeway in Bethesda, Maryland and began bagging groceries. The awesomeness of the Murray stories is that even the two that are not the intended correct answer may be true as well
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Murray" perfectly highlights the equally good entertaining and educational aspects of this documentary.
The good news is that most of "Murray" does the legendary subject justice; the bad news is that the painfully bad cold opens may want you to walk out of the theater or to stop watching at home. Candor requires sharing a strong desire to personally do exactly that and subsequent glee regarding sticking with the film. The neutral news is that throwing Avallone just a little shade is designed to encourage people to keep watching. The best news is that the stinger after the closing credits is MUST SEE. It reflects EVERY great aspect of the stories and leaves us wanting more.
The narrative that warrants scorn relates to "Murray" opening with a couple of groups discussing mysterious sightings that we soon learn involve Murray. These tales include the subject of the shock and awe showing up at a college party and doing the dishes and reading poetry at a building site. The one that prompted stopping the video was the story of a guy coming up behind someone at a urinal and placing his hands over the eyes of the man with his hands full. This leads to an image of grotesque looking Murray leering in the doorway of the men's room.
The armchair director advice is to COMPLETELY cut out the cold open and to start the film with images of the Woody Allen character Zelig, who pops up among historic figures. A "Forrest Gump" theme is an alternative. That would segue into the contrasting nature of the Murray stories.
"Murray" VASTLY improves after the opening credits, Avallone discusses the urban legends of the sightings and tantalizes viewers by sharing that he has the toll-free number that people use to contact this actor. Sadly, he blurs the digits.
We do see Avallone record and delete several voice mail messages that are designed to entice Murray to participate in the film. We also learn that Charleston, South Carolina being Ground Zero regarding Murray sightings prompts our host to take us there,
The first Charleston story is one of the best in "Murray." In true "Wait, Wait" fashion, we directly hear from someone with direct knowledge of the story. A wedding photographer discusses taking location photos of a happy couple when the future groom starts making odd faces. It turns out that Murray is behind the photographer and accepts his invitation to pose with the couple, Avallone shares one such photo.
Much of the rest of the film centers around stories in which Murray more fully literally and figuratively joins the party. This includes chipping in for a beer run.
Avallone presents all of this in the context of the philosophy that Murray espouses in his comedic and dramatic film roles. Although "Murray" does not address this, these clips further remind us that Murray agrees to do "Ghostbusters" in exchange for being allowed to star in the WWI period piece "The Razor's Edge."
We also get treated to insight by talking heads who know Murray; the icing on the cake is footage of the man of the hour doing improv. at Second City in Chicago. The context this time is how the improv. training shapes the psyche of Murray in ways that his visits reflect.
In addition to a decades' long love of Murray, a personal experience makes "Murray" special to your not-so-humble reviewer. A friend had coerced me into helping build a chicken coop at his hobby farm in a ruralish Boston suburb a few years ago. A lumber company had dumped all of the wood in the front yard.
I did not want to be there in the first place, and my friend would not get off his phone. I soon grabbed a big heavy piece of wood and started dragging it to the back of the house in an effort to move along the project. I could feel someone pick up the other end behind me a few minutes later.
Utilizing language that is inappropriate for this family friendlyish forum, I used just about every word previously banned on broadcast television in commenting on my friend finally hanging up and helping build HIS coop. The person behind me did not say a word.
I turned around after dropping the wood and saw Murray standing there, He had his trademark goofy grin on his face and asked "do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" I was equally shocked and embarrassed and profusely apologized. Murray soon put me at ease and helped us move the rest of the wood.
I turned around when we moved all the wood; I wanted to invite Murray to join us for soda and cookies, but he was gone. He said a few times that afternoon that no one would believe me if I told them about our encounter. I did not want to take video of it out of concern of offending Murray, and I got my friend to also refrain from doing so.
The bottom line regarding all this is that Murray is out there making our days. It clearly adequately delights him enough to keep him doing so. "Murray" helps skeptics believe us when we share our story.