Larger Than Life (1996) Poster

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Better than I thought it would be
culwin21 December 1998
As with most animal/comedian movies, I thought this one would be a bomb. However, it wasn't as bad as I expected. The plot is decent and the funny parts are mostly funny, instead of just stupid. Kids and adults both will enjoy the elephant and the occasional outdoor scene, as Bill Murray and his new friend trek across the beautiful American countryside. This movie also touches on serious topics like animal abuse. Bill Murray is funny as usual and Matthew McConaughey puts in an unusual and funny performance. This movie isn't going to win any Oscars, but provides good entertainment, without resorting to sex or violence. I gave it 7 out of 10.
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Slow starter but worth sticking it out
budikavlan19 November 2002
I would probably have given up on this movie had it not been showing in the middle of the night against infomercials and test patterns. It takes about 30 minutes before it really gets going, when Bill Murray and Vera hit the road. Bill Murray's performance is serviceable if unspectacular; it's a rather underwritten role that could have been played by most anyone, but the low-wattage version of Murray's charm does come through from time to time. Janeane Garofalo is well-used in a small role, but Matthew McConnaughey makes the most vivid impression in truly goofy part as an insane truck driver. Except for exposition, the first quarter or so of the film is dull, but the rest makes for pleasant if low-key entertainment. The "relationship" between man and elephant is genuinely touching.
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An interesting metaphor for the grieving process
sprocketbox29 November 2003
I think, if you take a moment, you can actually see that this movie is an interesting metaphor for the grieving process.

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.
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I really liked this film
skippydmb19 December 2004
I remember seeing this movie with my Aunt a little after it came out in the theaters. We were the only people in the place and that shocked us because it turned out to be a very good movie. I remember saying to her that it was a good thing nobody else was there because we laughed as loud I ever have. I haven't seen it since then but I would love to see it again and find out if it is on DVD. It surprises me that this isn't at any of the rental places I have been to, including the almighty blockbuster. I think I was about 19 at the time it came out. This would be a great family movie too. I recommend seeing this. It is very underrated.
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Nothing special, but still fun – Murray carries it from start to finish
bob the moo21 September 2002
Jack Corcoran is an inspiration speaker who is trying to get his career moving to get the bigger gigs after having a best selling book. He bases his theory on his ability to get over his father's death just before his birth. He is surprised to find his father has just died and has actually left him an inheritance. He travels out to collect to find that his father was a clown and his inheritance is substantial -–in fact she's an elephant. Now he has less than a week to get across country to deliver the elephant to one of several interested parties.

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.
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Loved it
Flameshadow1 September 2003
I thought it was Great, as an animal film and as a comedy. I laughed for the bulk of it, and nearly cried at the end (it's nothing near drama, I'm just weird). Perhaps it got a little sappy at times, but never 'so-sappy-you-could-die' and was never vulgar, hurray! I suppose I could go into all the themes and merits of this movie, but I'll just suggest you go see it.
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Funny as heck.
nickff13 December 2001
Bill Murray is a comedic genius. His demeanor is hilarious. He is the driving force of this movie. Even though this movie is meant for kids, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I wish they would release it on DVD, but Disney is funny about what they put out on DVD. If you enjoy a good guffaw, watch this movie.
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Classic film making, one of Murray's best and what a grand sidekick!
Amy Adler11 April 2016
Jack Corcoran (Bill Murray) is a small-time motivational speaker whose manager (Jeremy Piven) is trying to get him bigger gigs. Mr. C's mantra and book is called Get Over It, as Jack personally had a broken childhood that proved difficult. You see, his father drowned when Jack was a boy and his mother (Anita Gillette) raised him as a single parent. Now, however, Jack is an aspiring Anthony Robbins with a beautiful fiancée. Hold the phone! A lawyer contacts Jack by letter to tell him his father recently passed away and left him an inheritance. WHat ? ? Mom admits she lied to Jack because his father, Kirby, was too irresponsible to hold down a job, so she left him and invented the tragic tale of his demise. But, hey, maybe money can heal so Jack travels to the east coast to visit the lawyer. After some tricky moves by this attorney, Jack signs a contract. But, Holy Dumbo Batman, Jack has just inherited a circus elephant named Vera. It seems papa's last job was with the circus and his great act included a trained elephant. What the heck is Jack going to do with a pachyderm? Yet, he must take possession of Vera immediately. After spending the night in a junkyard with Vera, Jack finds out that a zookeeper in Los Angeles would like Vera very much, as she is returning some elephants to their natural habitat. Thus, the cross country trip of trips begins. From raiding a whole salad bar for the elephant's meals to riding in cattle car, Jack and Vera try to make it to the west coast in time. Will they? This darling film is an instant classic. Murray has rarely been better than this ordinary Joe thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Piven, Gillette, Janeane Garafolo, and all the other cast members are fine, too. As for the elephant Vera, what a charmer with loads of talent. She makes everyone WISH they had such an inheritance come their way. With a broad, attractive look at the various regions of the USA, as the viewer follows the duo's trip, the scenery is a pleasure, too. Please get this great movie for you and your loved ones in the very near future. Its a first choice for the whole family, young and old.
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a misfire that works
grizzledgeezer7 March 2015
This could have been a stupid, idiotic film. Well, actually, it /is/ a stupid, idiotic film. But it works, mostly because of Bill Murray's performance.

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.
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Great FAMILY film
MovieAddict201618 November 2002
No sex, violence and only a small amount of language help Larger Than Life accomplish its victory as a great family film. Bill Murray is his usual self: funny and unpredicatble: the king of wisecracks. But in Larger Than Life, Bill uses his talent for the families.
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Expected More Laughs
ccthemovieman-112 October 2006
This was okay, but really a bit disappointing because I expected more laughs. Considering the storyline and the lead actor (Bill Murray), it should have been a lot funnier than it turned out to be. Only part of this made me really laugh, such as when Murray lost control of his semi and was speeding down the road at a weird angle. (You have to see it, to appreciate it.)

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.
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Bill Murray and an elephant
SnoopyStyle21 February 2014
Jack Corcoran (Bill Murray) is a struggling motivational speaker. When he gets a telegram that his absentee circus father had passed away, he doesn't know that he left him a giant elephant and $35k in damages. Now he must figure out what to do with the elephant, and how to get to California. He could get $30k with Mo (Janeane Garofalo) who's sending elephants to Sri Lanka for a breeding problem, or at least $40k to Terry (Linda Fiorentino) who has an animal circus.

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.
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Hollywood does make them like that!
LivingDog27 February 2005
How big is an elephant's heart? Just big enough to fill the amount of 'heart' poured into this great film. Because the casting director was brilliant enough to hire the superiorly (that's not a word, but i don't care! :p) brilliant comedian (who has kept his comedic roots - HE MAKES PPL LAUGH! - rather than go all 'im so special artsy iconoclastic' type) Bill Murray (who plays Jack Corcoran, the son of a professional clown - D'OH! how perfect is that?!? Bill is a comedian, clown, father, son... get it? I don't.) who fills the role perfectly. If it was _anybody_else_ in this role it would have been only a "family" movie and not be worth watching unless your kid is watching it. But because of Mr. Murray, this movie takes off. All the comedy is his, and it's all funny. Kids will like this also because it has an elephant in it.

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.

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samwisedude28 October 2003
This movie has several things going for it. The writing is wonderful, the plot is wonderful, the acting is wonderful. And who ever trained the elephant has to be commended. VERA can do anything. This is also a great film for kids. Also, don't miss Tip Tucker, what a riot.
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Great film
zilch10 September 1998
Larger than life is a really great movie. It has the magic shared between friends, emotion and consideration for feelings. It is a really heartfelt true movie. I enjoyed it immensely.
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I think some people missed the magic
kidkryptonite21 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
*** may contain spoilers ***

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.
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Great plot with some laughs, but fails to reach its potential
Wuchak27 February 2017
Released in late 1996 and directed by Howard Franklin, "Larger than Life" is road movie/comedy/animal flick starring Bill Murray as a motivational speaker who receives a huge inheritance from his father whom he never met. It's not a fortune, however, but rather a female elephant named Vera. He decides to sell the pachyderm, but he must choose between selling Vera to a zookeeper in San Diego (Janeane Garofalo), who's offering $30,000, or to an attractive circus owner for $40,000 (Linda Fiorentino). As they trek across the country, Jack meets circus friends of his dad, a zany truck driver (Matthew McConaughey) and a village of Hispanics in need of a miracle. Keith David is on hand as a train conductor.

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.

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Hidden gem of a movie
Sharon Halstead19 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Good solid family film with some seriously (really) laugh out loud scenes so I highly recommend making the effort to find and watch it. Bill Murray is his usual droll, understated great self and one of the best scenes comes when he is driving a big rig-I laughed so hard my ribs joke. I was also delighted to find a young Matthew McConaughey playing a hilariously over the top lunatic of a truck driver. It's worth watching just to see his performance and I wonder if this is the role that got him noticed. Seriously folks, if you ever get a chance, WATCH THIS MOVIE!!!
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One of Bill Murray's Worst
utgard1417 May 2014
Bill Murray plays a motivational speaker whose circus clown father passes away and leaves him an elephant. Now he's got to take a road trip with the elephant so he can sell it. Ridiculously far-fetched premise with a lifeless performance by Murray and a supporting cast that seems hellbent on outshining him, making themselves look like a bunch of hams in the process. Matthew McConaughey is especially bad. I mean he really stinks. Not really a family movie despite the corny animal buddy plot. Also not very funny for a comedy. I think I laughed out loud once the whole movie and chuckled maybe twice. If you're a big elephant fan you might get more enjoyment out of it. But for the rest of us it's pretty dull.
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Bill Murray is just the best at what he does
cormac_zoso9 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Bill Murray is one of those people who seem to be so natural and comfortable and just being himself on screen that it is difficult to name anyone else who appears to not be acting when up on that big rectangle glowing in the dark. It truly seems that most of the time a camera crew is simply following him around as he finds odd situations to get himself into and then without a bit of effort, make us laugh and feel that special something in our hearts.

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.
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How Do They Do It?!?
ehrldawg11 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A man inherits an elephant from his father. What to do?

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---
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Enjoyable for the gendra
manemu23 July 2000
This is a well done movie and fits the gendra well. Bill Murray does a masterful job of being funny and this type of slapstick humor fits him well. We watched with our Granddaughters and all four of us enjoyed it greatly.
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Larger Than Life
Warning: Spoilers
I have always liked Bill Murray in films like Lost in Translation, and the trailer for this film looked really good, but the result was very disappointing. Basically Murray plays Jack Corcorin who has recently found out that his father died, and he is expected to hear his will. He finds out that his father was a clown, because he left a large shoe, his squeaky nose, and his main inheritance, an elephant! The only way that Jack can get rid of this elephant is to travel 4000 miles in four days and give him to a safe zoo for $30,000. Also starring Pat Hingle as Vernon. There are small tiny moments of humour, such as a truck's front bending forward, and Murray screaming, but overall, it's pointless. Pretty poor!
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Another promising premise gone awry
Costu-224 July 2000
This *should* have been an amazingly funny movie...but it falls flat on its face. (In fact, I stopped watching it halfway through, which is something I rarely do...) -- Bill Murray plays Jack Corcoran, a second-rate motivational speaker who is bequeathed an elephant by his father (whom he had presumed to be dead before he was born) ; he then has one week to get the ponderous pachyderm across the country. His adventures on the way are only mildly amusing at best. Janeane Garofalo's considerable comedic talents go largely untapped. Anita Gillette is impressive in her small role as Jack's mother (who has a lot of explaining to do), and Pat Hingle stands out as a former circus associate of Jack's father. -- Perhaps the second half of the movie was better than the first, but I find that hard to believe...
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