Bill Murray has starred in 47 feature films, but he also owns one directing credit: the fun and light bank robbery comedy caper, “Quick Change.” Since we are examining Bill Murray movies this week, it seems very apropos to look at his directing effort from 1990.
(For other Bill Murray movies featured this week, you can link to “Broken Flowers” (2005), “Stripes” (1981), “Kingpin” (1996), “Rushmore” (1998), and “Groundhog Day” (1993))
“Quick Change” (1990) 3 / 5 stars – Before lawmakers cleaned up New York City, crime ran high, some areas resembled 3rd world countries and seedy peep shows in Times Square were commonplace.
Grimm (Bill Murray) works as a frustrated city planner, doesn’t like what he sees and longs to live somewhere else.
“God, I hate this town,” he repeatedly states throughout the picture.
So why not rob a bank for $1,000,000 and leave the city for good?
Due to the U.S. Federal Government properly insuring bank customers’ deposits up to a certain limit, no one really gets hurt financially (of course, the taxpayers are on the hook for the funds).
If Grimm creates a full-proof plan on getting into the bank, getting out of the bank and skipping town, he could end up basking in sun with truckloads of money on some distant island.
So Grimm, along with his girlfriend Phyllis (Geena Davis) and his best friend Loomis (Randy Quaid) put a brilliant plan in motion.
Dressed as a clown – complete with a red hat and jacket, big shoes and balloons – Grimm enters a big fancy NYC bank in order to walk out with oodles of cash!
Writer/co-director Howard Franklin gets creative with Grimm’s plan, and Murray’s matter-a-fact calm demeanor and sarcastic sense of humor bring a lightheartedness to the armed robbery.
This is a comedy, so there’s no real sense anyone will get hurt, but the robbery delivers a huge amount of interest.
How will Grimm get away while scores of snipers and police officers, led by crusty old Chief Rotzinger, played wonderfully by Jason Robards, are right outside?
Rotzinger is no dummy, and he’s determined to bag this clown.
As it turns out, getting in and out of the bank wasn’t much of an issue for Grimm.
The real challenge is getting out of New York!
Grimm, Phyllis and Loomis find themselves in a quagmire of bad circumstances in sketchy neighborhoods throughout the city.
They run into two men jousting on bicycles and a woman crying out in Spanish on a street corner for no apparent reason, and that’s just for starters.
This cat-and-mouse chase isn’t groundbreaking and in many cases, quite ordinary, but it’s very easy to root Grimm, Phyllis and Loomis.
Their predicament generates some intriguing suspense, including dealing with the most frustrating bus driver in recent movie memory.
There’s even a small appearance by the late Phil Hartman and a key appearance by Tony Shalhoub as a cab driver who can identify the bank robbers, but can’t communicate to the English-speaking only police department.
This fun little picture did speak to me, and I’m certainly glad I watched it again.
What it lacks in technical robbery semantics, broadly original concepts, and shrewd writing, it makes up for in heart, spirit and enjoyable levity.
“Quick Change” is available on DVD and is rated R for adult language, situations and some violence.