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How could so many people miss this amazing performance? Bill Murray pulls off something that hadn't been done since the days of Harold Lloyd: a character who always succeeds despite the fact that he thinks that everything is a game. Like Lloyd's blindfolded wanderings on suspended buildings many stories in the air where he never falls down or gets hurt, Murray triumphs as a super-secret-agent when he thinks the entire thing is a parlor game, a bit of 'real life theatre'. The twists and turns of the plot, the misunderstandings and misinterpretations by everyone around him just add to the giddiness of the whole film. I have rarely been so disappointed when I had to finally concede that it was the end of the story. Give this a second look if you dismissed it as just a silly movie. It's a classic, and one of my 10 best movies of all time.
Although this movie is not quite as funny as What About Bob, I think
this is probably Bill Murray's second funniest film, though I strongly
doubt if it will be enjoyed as much by the average viewer. That is
because, I hate to say, the "average viewer" often is a teenager or
adult who likes their comedy very broad and simple. No, this will not
appeal to fans of Porky's or Little Nicky because it requires the
viewer to have a reasonable attention-span and the ability to enjoy a
comedy that doesn't telegraph what will happen next (just how many
movies these days are hard to predict anyways?).
The movie is a screwy, difficult to describe spy adventure where everyone knows just how deadly the stakes are---except for Bill Murray's character. He mistakenly thinks everything that is happening around him is a type of performance art (sort of a Theatre of the Absurd). You MUST watch it.
Anybody who didn't enjoy this movie didn't get it... it was one of the most
hilarious parodies I've ever seen. But, perhaps the circumstances of my
initial viewing overly influenced my opinion. On a business trip to DC in
1998, I saw "The Game" with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn on the way out...
great movie, but very heavy and deep. However on the way back, this movie
was playing. Based on initial reviews I wasn't expecting much, but watching
it was like someone purposely made a funny version of The Game, and I
probably annoyed my fellow passengers as I was laughing so hard. I thought
Murray was at his best, not unlike Chevy Chase in the Fletch movies (shame
they didn't make more of those), as they were both in their comical
The coincidental (or perhaps not) pairing of these two films really added to my enjoyment of both. On a cold rainy weekend, I strongly recommend renting both and watching them in the same order I did you won't be disappointed!
First of all....I loved it. Simply put, this film was great. Talk about a story that could have been based upon true life incidents is not what this film is about. This is comedy at its best. Bill Murray's character is a man who manages a Blockbuster-video store someplace in Iowa. Murray decides to take a vacation and visit his brother in London. His brother (Peter Gallagher) is entertaining some important clients that same evening and sends his brother (Murray) out to participate in this audience-interaction play involving spies called the `Theater of Life'. Well, as the play begins, Murray accidentally stumbles into a real-life spy drama and takes everything that happens next as if he is just acting in a play. The result is non-stop humor which leaves the audience busting up outloud. You don't have to love Bill Murray to love this film...he brings to the screen the best parts of his roles in "Scrooged", "Stripes", "Ground Hog Day" and "What About Bob"...you just have to be ready to experience Bill Murray at his best. Bottom line, what might even be funnier than the film, is being part of an uninhibited audience, because once some people begin laughing, they will be at it for the next two hours.
Jon Amiel's "The Man Who Knew Too Little" is one of the funniest movies
that keeps the viewer in a laughing state all the time. Mr. Amiel shows
an affinity to comedy as he takes us along for a fun ride into this
amusing movie. The film is based on the funny Robert Farrar book, who
also adapted the material for the screen.
This film is a sort of comedy of errors in which an innocent man is drawn into an international conspiracy that he has no clue is going on around him because his brother, in order to get him away from his dinner party, decides to treat him to a performance of a play in which the viewer is part of the show.
Little does Wally Ritchie realize what he has gotten into. That's the basic premise for the film, which works well because Wally doesn't suspect what he's involved in. So he goes along for the fun of it, thinking nothing about the bad guys that are trying to get rid of him, for real.
Bill Murray proves he is one of the best comedy actors working today. The sequence involving Mr. Murray dancing with a Russian folk group at the hotel where something terrible is set to occur is just pure perfection. Mr. Murray is a likable actor and never makes himself obnoxious in any situation. He is a delight to watch.
The rest of the cast is good. Peter Gallagher is Wally's brother. Joanne Whalley makes a perfect femme fatale. Alfredo Molina has some excellent moments as Boris, the butcher, the man who wants to eliminate Wally out of the picture.
"The Man Who Knew Too Little" is a fun film to watch thanks to Jon Amiel.
With my son out-of-school, it's a bit trickier getting time to see the films
I really enjoy. TRANSLATION: it's that time of year for a lot of rentals
of films he likes and I can handle. After a tough day of lounging by the
pool, another viewing of "The Seventh Seal" won't fly.
But Bill Murray in "The Man Who Knew Too Little" gives us that perfect summertime, late night film. Murray stars as a bumbling, clueless American who pops into London unexpected and uninvited so his Master of the Universe brother can celebrate his birthday. Trouble is the brother and his wife are entertaining visitors from Germany for a business presentation and Murray can't fit in. His brother has to make him disappear for the evening.
Which leads to the complex plot. Given a ticket for a live, interactive, TV show without walls (or a specific locale), Murray stumbles into a plot by a top British spymaster and his Soviet counterpart to pull off a midnight assassination of two ambassadors, thus wrecking a treaty ending the Cold War (and their lucrative, paranoia-tinged careers). Believing he's in a very big show, and with - of course - suitable and gorgeous female assistance he hits a lot of London (sometimes literally).
A little dated, I'm not so sure we wouldn't welcome some of the uncertainties and stresses of the Cold War for the unfolding enigma of international relations today. Hey, I shouldn't get serious and neither does Murray as he blunders about dispatching assassins and bystanders with ease.
This is a very physical comedy, Murray's forte. There isn't a serious idea in the script and the outcome is as predictable as May drizzle in London. But my kid couldn't stop laughing and that's good enough for me.
This poorly worded title is a wonderfully absurd farce. London is a perfect backdrop for Bill Murray to perform his shtick as Wallace Ritchie. The supporting cast play to their purposeful stereotypes and most importantly don't get in Murray's way. Peter Gallagher (of 'Orange County' fame) plays a very good straight man as Murray's brother, and Joanne Whalley seems to be playing her part and enjoying watching Murray's performance at the same time. There is a generous supply of double entendres, predictable, but well written and funny. This movie can be enjoyed by families as well as 'adults only'. Don't expect a life changing event, just enjoy a fun movie.
Wally Ritchie flies from America to visit his brother in London for his
birthday. However James has a business meeting and needs Wally out of the
way for the evening. He books Wally onto a new murder-evening style
experience where you get to play the character of an secret agent or the
like. However Wally answers the wrong phone call and is mistaken for hitman
Spenser. Following the instructions of the call, Wally becomes involved in
a plot to start the cold war again by killing a mix of Ambassadors.
Blissfully unaware Wally sets out to foil the plot.
This is one of those films that I'd kept meaning to see for ages but never got round to it. So when I finally did I maybe had too high expectations for it. So for the first 20 minutes I was a little impatient and was bothered that I wasn't really enjoying it or laughing very much. However once I got past this I relaxed and started to enjoy it.
The plot is mush and even if you take it seriously, all the pieces don't fit together and the plot doesn't make a lot of sense. However ignore all this plot nonsense this is all about Wally stumbling from one misunderstanding to another lucky occurrence. We're not in the realms of classic comedy here and it certainly isn't hilarious. Rather it's funny and enjoyable in that, even when I wasn't smiling I still had a fixed grin on my face.
Murray is the film's saviour. He stumbles around so very well and makes even the most basic misunderstanding funny. Gallagher is a passable straightman and Walley-Kilmer is decent but really suffers from having to share a screen with Murray. A fleet of British faces make up the rest of the cast from Molina, Wilson, Woodeson to the sublime John Thomson and faces like Dexter Fletcher and `that guy offa Family Affairs'. To be honest it's all a bit distracting having so many `oh, that's ' and you do have to try and get past it.
Overall this isn't the funniest thing you'll ever see, but it is enjoyable and will make you smile for 90 minutes, even if the belly laughs are less often than you'd like. Murray runs the show and brings laughs out of the least inspired routines. Well worth a watch if you're in a silly, undemanding mood.
HE GOOD - This was better than I expected, especially after reading
some negative reviews on it. Bill Murray is perfect for his role. There
are several scenes I just laughed out loud. He had some funny lines.
The film moves well and the comedy is generally good. Joanne
Whalley-Kilmer is usually nice to watch
THE BAD - The only weak part, unfortunately, was the last 20 minutes. Also, this is basically a one-joke movie and that joke can begin to tire after about 40 minutes. I didn't care for Peter Gallagher's role.
OVERALL - Like "Groundhog Day," a good vehicle for Murray's humor makes it an entertaining film, but I'd rent it before buying it.
In the film "Scandal," Joanne Whalley-Kilmer played the part of a high priced call girl who has affairs with British politicians, movers, and shakers, and most famously with the British Minister of War. It was based on a true story and Joanne W-K's performance became the highlight of her career. In "The Man Who Knew Too Little," Joanne W-K once again plays this character but for laughs. Kind of neat considering that the two films probably don't share the same audience (which is apparent since so far I am the only reviewer to pick up on this connection, despite the obvious spoof.) When she appeared on screen and I saw she was spoofing her "Scandal" role it was like actually getting one of Dennis Miller's "intellectual" jokes. If you have only seen one of the films you should see the other one too. If you have not seen either start with "Scandal," if not for chronological sake then at least to get the inside joke in the later (plus "Scandal" is a really good film and very timely considering the Clinton-Monica thing). Bill fans (Murray that is) don't worry, he is here in fine form. For movie buffs this film is but a series of spoofs of well-known, and not so well-known mostly film-noir flicks (think watered down Mel Brooks, circa Young Frankenstein, not so broad, not so obvious, but cool when you "get it.") If you're under the age of 35 you probably won't get them (my niece, part of the "money demographic" was shocked to find out that there was actually a movie called "The Man Who Knew Too Much," which explains exactly why the film didn't do better box office.) Most of all, the interest is Joanne Whalley-Kilmer who has brought back to comedic film the wonderful French Maid costume. Once a staple of Vauldeville, Bob Hope comedies, and Pink Panther films, the French Maid's costume should be mandatory for all women endowed with great legs. Oooh La La! Even if you have not seen Hitchcock or British cinema, you never heard of film-noir (let alone pronounce it), and your knowledge of Cold War and foreign spy history is non-existent, there is Joanne W-K's killer bod and cool spoof. And oh yes, Bill Murray's good too.
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