The other day I was informed that Bill Murray's son used to cook at a restaurant around the corner from my house. Apparently he looks just like his dad, and it made me sad that I never sent my compliments to the chef. And then I remembered how disappointed I am about Bill Murray's career lately.
I'm not going to be shy about it. Bill Murray is my favorite actor. Heck, he's probably a lot of people's favorite actor, and I bet a lot of those people are also a little bit puzzled about what happened to his once-impeccable taste in choosing movies to act in.
Just think. From his breakout role as Carl Spackler in Caddyshack, the Illinois native went on to show his gentle face in decade-defining movies like Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. Then, in the late 90s, he went indie before going indie was the cool thing to do. Rushmore remains one of the most influential films in my life. The soundtrack pulled me in, but watching Bill Murray play a depressed millionaire who befriends a young fuck-up kept me going back. I think I've probably seen it three dozen times.
And then something went wrong. His starring role in Garfield is a thing of lore, not because he did a great job in a great movie but because he says he thought it was a Coen brothers movie. And then he did Garfield 2!
Is it art? For the last decade, Bill Murray's pretty much only appeared in mediocre movies, with the exception of Broken Flowers which made me cry. There's a solid case to be made that Bill Murray's just been busy with other pursuits. Did you know, for instance, that he owns several minor league baseball teams in the South?
Then there are his hijinks. Bill Murray is legendary for appearing in random situations—like karaoke night—with random strangers—like this kickball team—and being generally awesome. Then he started showing up at random parties in Williamsburg. He wasn't in hipsterville just because where his son worked there, though. He actually lived in a loft by the East River, where he was apparently an exceptional neighbor.
Some think his hijinks are a very public part of a very eccentric mid-life crisis. So it's maybe safe to assume that the schizophrenic stretch of his career in recent years is a consequence of the same inner turmoil. I'm not so sure. Occam's razor in mind, I think he probably didn't need to work, and he certainly didn't need to pad his resume. So why not have a little fun?
Speaking of fun, you really should watch Rushmore if you haven't already. If you've already seen it, you should watch it again. Because it's entirely possible that Bill Murray diving off the high dive in Budweiser swim trunks is the greatest 90 seconds in movie history. [Amazon, Google Play]