Hold Up — Bill Murray Directed This Movie?

By Robert Silva


Some movies answer the big questions in life. Like, how would Bill Murray rob a bank?

He would dress like a clown. He would strap himself with dynamite. And, without ruining the rest, know it involves the ingenious simplicity of a magic trick.

In Quick Change, Murray stars as bank robber Grimm who — after pulling off the heist with girlfriend Phyllis (Geena Davis) and barmy bud Loomis (Randy Quaid) — heads to JFK airport with $1 million strapped under their clothes. And never quite makes it there.

Playing like a loony version of Sartre’s No Exit, the trio encounter every possible obstacle and a surreal cavalcade of New York City characters that block them at every turn. Among them, a tragically inarticulate cab driver (Tony Shalhoub) and urban jousters on bicycles with trashcan lids for shields. Meanwhile police chief Jason Robards is hot on their trail playing it so straight one wonders if he was told he was making a Die Hard sequel.

Present-day Murray seems to relish turning his real life into performance art — crashing kickball games and karaoke rooms, stealing french fries from total strangers — and Quick Change shares that sense of inspired anarchy. He’s impulsive, and thoughtful. Murray, who once took a break from show business to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, throws himself into a heist movie with no disposition to follow the program.

“What kind of clown are you?” a security guard asks him after he first sets his big red floppy shoes inside the bank.

“The crying-on-the-inside-kind, I guess,” he says.

The movie is full of absurd charms, as the bank robbers struggle to escape the gravitational field of New York, but what makes it irresistible is how it makes you feel as if you’re spending a day with Murray. Endless and full of possibility. Quick Change is the only movie he directed (sharing the credit with writer Howard Franklin) — and possibly the only one he ever will, but you never know. He’s full of surprises.

Quick Change is available until November 30.