It's threatening to become routine—another Oscar season, another Bill Murray performance gone woefully underappreciated. All right, granted he very nearly picked up the Best Actor award for Lost In Translation, but there's that whole other matter of the performances that mysteriously fail to even snag him a nod—such as Rushmore and 2005's subtly brilliant turn in Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. And the fact of the matter is he's always been this good, back when he was causing anarchy at boot camp and waving around proton packs, well before he was considered to be making any sort of a "dramatic" turn, from Groundhog Day to What About Bob? He was also exceptional in a little-seen gem of a flick called Quick Change, which is released this week.
Besides starring, Murray also co-directed Quick Change with Howard Franklin, and if it weren't for his special blend of dry wit and crack comic timing—plus the ability to wear a clown outfit with something approaching panache—the film's wildly escalating plot might not work. After pulling off the perfect bank heist, three criminals' attempts to flee New York City are stifled by one obstacle after another, from foreign cabbies and fellow criminals to the Mafia and the police hot on their trail. Murray's hapless gunman cuts a sarcastic swathe through the After Hours-type hijinks, perfectly matched by the very good Geena Davis and Randy Quaid as his accomplices; there are also rock-solid performances from the likes of Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, and the late Jason Robards and Phil Hartman. Originally slated for release last year, the disc is slight on extras but marks the first time this underrated bit of magic from one of our greatest comedians—nay, greatest actors has been available on DVD. Don't miss it.
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Also recommended this week: The Frisco Kid; Metropolitan (Criterion).