Tag Archives: Bill Murray

Film: Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy, Christopher Guest, Jim Belushi - and some great music, too. Uploaded by centre.edu.

This listing is for the 1986 movie, adapted from the stage musical by writer Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken, which was itself adapted from a 1960 black comedy by famous B-movie direct Roger Corman.

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It’s not the plot that scintillates in this movie, but the performances and the great music. The leads, played by Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene, are fine, but it’s the supporting cast and cameo roles that really stand out. Consider this cast: Bill Murray, Steve Martin (in a fabulous turn as the dentist), John Candy, Jim Belushi, and Christopher Guest – with Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops providing the voice of Audrey, the blood-addicted alien plant. No local theater or traveling Broadway production can match that lineup.

Ashman and Menken wrote some wonderful songs, making this soundtrack a great addition to your music library. Highlights include “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Somewhere That’s Green,” “Dentist,” “Feed Me,” and “Suddenly Seymour.”

If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t view it thinking you’re going to be watching a fun fantasy. It’s a dark story, a black comedy, and has been since the original 1960 film. And yet, it’s very funny, surprisingly humane, and filled with great music. I just have one piece of advice for you:

Whatever they offer you, don’t feed the plant…

Film: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a brilliant movie. Once you get past its quirky premise, that a man has to live one day – Groundhog Day – over and over and over again, you begin to see a film that’s not only funny, but smart, and romantic, and redemptive.

Bill Murray (Great American Things, April 25, 2009) does an exceptional job as weatherman Phil Connors. This role is the bridge between his broader comedies and the more sophisticated parts he played in Rushmore and Lost in Translation. Andie MacDowell does a serviceable job as the female lead, but this is Murray’s movie.

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Harold Ramis co-wrote and directed Groundhog Day, but nothing he did before or has done since would hint that he had this movie in him. I consider it the It’s a Wonderful Life (Great American Things, December 1, 2009) of our generation. Consider: both fantasy stories, both with a protagonist who’s frustrated by his life, both of whom end up doing what’s right despite the personal cost to them. And both of whom are rewarded with joy and satisfaction as a result. In It’s a Wonderful Life, it starts to snow when Jimmy Stewart (Great American Things, April 8, 2009) says he wants to live again; in Groundhog Day, it starts to snow when Murray realizes that whatever happens in the future, he’s happy now.

The American Film Institute named the movie its number eight fantasy movie of all time, and number 34 comedy. But perhaps the film’s greatest tribute is how the phrase “Groundhog Day” is now a part of the language, indicating any experience that’s repeated time and again.