Larger Than Life (1996)
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Grief can be seen as a big uncontrollable thing that you didn't even know was yours until you have it laid in your lap. Then you have to figure out what to do with it, maybe make friends with it. Maybe find some way to control it. And, eventually, you have to give it up.
Around about this period Bill Murray films kinda sunk to a bit of a low in terms of money making and quality. One thing has kept him a star however and that's himself even an average film can be made enjoyable by him, and that's what happens here. The plot is predictable who will he give the elephant to, the evil trainer or the jungle bunny? Will he make it in time? The answers are easy, but no matter. The message about loving animals etc are a little sentimental and don't sit well with the idea that we are actually watching an animal that belongs to a movie organisation such as the one being shown here as evil!
The comedy is also predictable we know the elephant will knock things down and lift things up etc, but it's not overdone and is amusing to a point. It may not be rocket science but it will please kids for sure. For adults the physical nature of this comedy is tempered by a world weary Murray who really does make the film worth watching. He is a funny guy and although he is on auto-pilot here, he is still very good.
The film rests solely on his shoulders and he just about carries it off. The rest of the cast may well be made of faces but they are all in minor roles. People like Piven, Garofalo, Fiorentino, Jerry Alder, Presnell etc are all round the edges making it look tidy but really do little. McConaughey has a bigger, minor role but he isn't very good. His character is funny but he doesn't quite carry it off and I wonder if he is embarrassed by it now.
Overall this sort of thing usually stinks the place up, and this one doesn't. It's nothing special but is amusing enough to pass the time. This is mainly due to Murray doing his usual world-weary cynical act we've seen it before but that doesn't mean it's not still funny.
A man who has to unload his father's trained elephant does not make for a promising story, comic or dramatic. What makes this film work is Murray's generally laid-back performance. His character -- a motivational instructor who teaches patient and thoughtful behavior -- displays such. He rarely gets badly upset, and there's little of the frantic slapstick one would expect from other actors. (I suspect Roy Blount was consciously writing such a story.) When a reviewer states that the film misses the obvious sight gags its premise suggests -- well, that's the point of it, right?
This isn't a film that demands a second viewing. But it's far better than you might expect, and its refusal to assault the viewer is welcome. It's a perfect film when you don't want to watch anything demanding.
PS: I just love the parents who say this (and other films) are good family films because they lack sex, violence, adult language, etc. Unfortunately, most such films are garbage that pervert a child's taste.
The supporting cast was anything but likable people. Just look at a sampling of the names: Matthew McConaughey, Janeane Garofalo and Linda Fiorentino. Yecch! McConaughey's role in here as "Tip Tucker" was just downright annoying. He was the worst.
Other that those people, the movie had some charming moments but overall it is not recommended. It's another Disney flop.
It was probably a hilarious pitch to put Bill Murray with an elephant. I just don't know what they said to Bill to get him to do the movie. The biggest problem is that the whole story is really stupid. It's setup like a ridiculous sitcom. Bill has a few cute moments but it is mostly sad to see him fall so low. Matthew McConaughey puts in a ridiculous performance as a wild and crazy trucker.
Kudos to every other actor who played smaller parts:
Blockhead - Pat Hingle
Tip Tucker (luny as a jaybird) - Matthew McConaughey (Matthew gets an extra set of kudos b/c his performance was over the top. Murray's ride with him is hilarious)
Mo - Janeane Garofalo
Terry - Linda Fiorentino
Lawyer - Harve Presnell
Train Conductor - Keith David
Junkyard Guy - Greg Lewis, and
last but not least,
dear sweet Vera,
played by Tal. :)
Every time I see it it always brings a tear to my eye and manages to tug on my heart. I see it every time it comes out on TV.
This was on TV the other day and I found myself watching it. I came on here to see more about it and read other reviews. I think for the most part the reviews are close I just think they missed what bumps this movie from a low rating to a much higher one. I concede I have to agree, the pacing is off, he gets close to the animal and there is a sort of abruptness about the end but I think this whole thing is about the process, the journey. Its basally not about the end, its about getting there. Bill Murray, who is hilarious, and a lot of the other characters are great. I don't know how many people care about this film or will look it up but all the reviews missed the magic here.
I am currently going through some real life "stuff" and there is a lot symbology here. I know Bill Marry almost never does work without some other layer, or layers. His films almost always have another level to them. This guy is given a giant animal he cant possibly properly care for. This is a "Problem" but the irony is there, that hes a motivational speaker, a person that identifies problems and tells others to get over it. This is a problem he can not get over. As the movie progresses his life is changed, the problem becomes like a cosmic force guiding him, to a new less cynical life.
Maybe its just me projecting my personal stuff going on but sometimes when the universe will not stop pushing us, we have to change, we know deep down we should, and the thing we view originally as a pain or a problem isn't at all... It is the catalyst that moves us into change.
Every review I read missed this artistic and meaningful layer of it. I actually cried a bit at the end.
I love elephants, circuses and road movies; I also appreciate Murray's subdued brand of humor now and then. So I enjoy "Larger than Life" to some degree, but it's generally a missed opportunity because it could've been so much better. The plot's great, but the script needed a serious rewrite to realize its potential. That takes time and money, of course, which the producers unfortunately didn't want to spend.
The movie contains scene after scene that hold the promise of great entertainment, one way or another, but they're never milked for their potential. Take the Hispanic village segment, it comes and goes to little dramatic or comedic effect. Or take Fiorentino and her high wire babes: What we see of them is fine but they're never flushed out for their potential (and I'm not talking about raunch or nudity). Also consider the wacky truck driver with the mullet: He has the promise of being a great comedic side character, but he ends up just being over-the-top weird and inscrutable.
Still, there are several laughs & amusing moments and the road trip is entertaining to a point, which makes "Larger than Life" worthwhile for some.
The film runs 93 minutes and was in St. Louis, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; Moab, Utah; Wrightwood & San Jose Airport, California.
This is one of those movies and the odd situation he finds for himself is trying to get rid of an elephant left to him by his estranged and recently deceased father. This results in most of the movie being Bill talking to the elephant, not too much response from the big gray co-star but he does have a presence. And despite some of the other reviews saying otherwise, it works, and it works great for Bill Murray fans. It's as if he really is playing it off-the-cuff and it makes it all work.
I really liked sprocketbox' metaphor of the elephant being the grieving process. Having lost the best friend I ever had about a year ago, my elephant hasn't gotten much smaller and so his metaphor hit me between the eyes frankly. There isn't an hour of a day when I still don't turn around and think "There's something I have to remember to tell ____ about" or "That's something _____ would find funny" and so on. That elephant is still there no matter where I turn.
This is a movie well worth seeing and not just for Bill Murray fans. It's warm-hearted, relaxed, easy-going, and natural and much better than the five star rating given here.
This is a cute movie. A man on a cross country journey with his elephant. Tip Tucker was pretty funny,especially when he does his "How Do They Do It?!?" rant. There are people out here in the truckin industry like that,just like other trades. If Bill Murray actually drove the International with the cab tilted forward,that would be impressive.
Bill Murray drives the International big rig.
Rodney Bennett(I think)drives the Freightliner tanker big rig.
Matthew McConaughey drives the Freightliner 18 wheeler.
Bill Murray,Rodney Bennett, and Matthew McConaughhey are permanent A list actors.
Linda Florentino,Janeane Gurofalo,and Maureen Mueller are hot!!
---One Truck Drivers Opinion---