Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Bill Murray

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we focus our attentions on the star of this weekend's "Hyde Park on Hudson", Bill Murray. Murray grew up in the Chicago, Illinois area, with one of his first jobs being a pizza maker at Little Caesars. Acting wasn't something Murray always wanted to do, being more interested in sports than film earlier in life. He enrolled at Regis College in Denver to study pre-med, but ultimately dropped out after only his sophomore year. Shortly after, fate would pair him with fellow comedians Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi, all of whom hosted the National Lampoon Radio Hour together.


The group meshed well, and in 1975, Saturday Night Live was created, and Aykroyd, Radner, and Belushi would go on to comprise much of the original cast. However, Murray would not join until the following year. As he broke into film, he quickly jumped into many notable roles. And while Murray is a comedy icon, many directors do not enjoy working with him, as he has a tendency to re-write and improvise many of his lines, ultimately leading to scenes that barely resemble their original versions (many admit that Murray's versions are better than what they had before, though).

Still an avid sports fan, Murray is the owner of three minor league baseball teams, "Caddyshack" restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, and is a die-hard fan of the Champaign-Urbana Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs (fun fact: while filming in Italy in 2003, he had it written into his contact for him to receive time off and a live satellite feed during all Cubs playoff games).

While the roles he's held are well-known, it's interesting that he was actually originally considered for the role of "Han Solo" in Star Wars (1977). His role in "Ghostbusters" was originally written for John Belushi, but as he passed away before filming began, Murray was able to step in. And to this day, one of the few career decisions he regrets is turning down Steve Carell's role in "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006).

There's so much more that we could talk about, but there's just not enough time or space. So let's just get to the meat of this thing, the selections below. Hit the jump to see which titles made our lists!

Alex Schopp -
It's stupid some of the titles I have to leave off of this list.

     1. Groundhog Day (1993)

I think I love watching this movie most regularly of all the films on this list. Is this a perfect comedy movie?
     2. Caddyshack (1980)
I didn't grow up with this one, and I wish I would have - if so, this might be one spot higher. But I still love it a lot, and the comedy is still so funny. Bill Murray's character doesn't do it for me as much as it does most though; Chevy Chase is the big draw here. It might be one of my favorite comedic performances ever.
     3. Ghostbusters (1984)
Who would have thought this film would drop all the way down to #3? This is a perfectly good movie, with an epic cast, great music, and plenty of good times. Am I sure this falls this far?
     4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
This film gets the nod over "Scrooged" because I think I'm mostly only wanting to watch that film around the holidays and this one plays well all year long. There was a time in my life when I think I might have called this my favorite movie of all-time.
     5. Scrooged (1988)
This was always the Christmas family tradition movie in our household. This is my Christmas Story.

Ben Foutch -
I'd watch anything with Bill Murray attached to it. Except for the Garfield films...Was the money worth it, Bill?

     1. Groundhog Day (1993)

This just might be a perfect film.
     2. Stripes (1981)
Suffers from a disjointed second half, but the first half is comedy gold.
     3. Ghostbusters (1984)
I don't think the magic of this film can ever be recaptured.
     4. Kingpin (1996)
"Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, Mr. McCracken is already there."
     5. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Just a cameo, but his character might be a top five of his career.

Derek Clem -

     1. Ghostbusters (1984)

A classic and major staple in my life. One of the most quotable movies ever. I have so many great memories watching this with so many different people. You really couldn't ask for a better ghost comedy.
     2. Scrooged (1998)
Easily one of my favorite tellings of Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol. Plus, my Step dad is in this movie! Great fun!
     3. Quick Change (1990)
A group of "bad guys" you certainly root for. Not only does Bill Murray star, but he also directed this feature.
     4. Groundhog Day (1993)
There have been a few days in my life I wouldn't mind living over and over and over and over and over again.
     5. Meatballs (1979)
He's the camp counselor I strive to be.

Nathan Hinds -
This ended up being a lot harder than I thought it would be to make. I didn't think he had as many amazing movies as he does. Although, I'm not sure why I thought that.

     1. Groundhog Day (1993)

I mean, this has got to be everyone's #1, right?
     2. Ghostbusters (1984)
Or is this the obvious #1? I didn't actually see this for the first time until a couple of years ago, so I don't have the nostalgic ties to it.
     3. Zombieland (2009)
Normally I try to exclude cameo roles, but seeing as how it's the greatest cameo ever, I made an exception.
     4. Wild Things (1988)
Okay, so Bill Murray isn't really the main reason I love this movie, but he's still awesome while he's in it.
     5. Kingpin (1996)
Another movie I just saw for the first time very recently but I instantly loved it.

Andy Schopp -
I wanted to fit some Wes Anderson in here but for some reason it didn't seem to work out.
     

     1. Ghostbusters (1984)
This movie is a perfect mix of comedy and sci-fi. There are horror elements happening here but they are drowned out just enough to make sure those kiddos can enjoy!
     2. Groundhog Day (1993)
I have seen this movie 400 times and it still hasn't gotten old. If I could have two number one spots, this would also be there.
     3. Scrooged (1998)
I make sure to get this watched at least once every Christmas season.
     4. What about Bob? (1991)
Hilariously insane movie, also sometimes borderlines a Ben Stiller type, but it's delivered in a much more swallowable manner.
     5. Quick Change (1990)
Three months ago this wouldn't have been on my list of movies to choose from for Murray. I hadn't seen it until recently, and just by just pure chance of fate. Derek and I watched it twice in one sitting and it turned out to be a great great comedy! Also, it's Murray's ONLY Directing credit...?

There we have it, folks. These are the films we see as the best that Bill Murray has had to offer in his illustrious career. While we've seen more overall titles in some of our genre lists, the 13 titles featured above would definitely rank near the top of our Filmmaker lists. It's not very often that an actor has at least 13 different movies that someone thinks is one of the best of his career (at least not when the bar is already so with someone like Bill Murray). Still, the usual suspects dominated pretty hard. "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" both appeared on all five lists, and between the two of them grabbed all five of the first-place votes. "Groundhog Day" earned one more and thus managed a slightly higher average rank of 1.8 compared to the 2.0 of "Ghostbusters". Regardless though, these both feel like they so easily sit atop Bill Murray's filmography, and if there's any chance you haven't seen either of them, it's a demand that you rectify that as soon as possible.

Otherwise, only three other films managed repeat selections. "Scrooged" was the only film with three picks, while "Kingpin" and "Quick Change" each received two. All three good selections though, and it also seems reasonable that a couple of these titles could have evaded you earlier in life.

There are so many great titles featured this week though, and Bill Murray is unquestionably one of the greatest comedic actors of all-time; anything above that you haven't yet seen, do yourself a favor and give it a watch.

Hopefully each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this Bill Murray has provided over the years, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!