Blaise Starrett is a rancher at odds with homesteaders when outlaws hold up the small town. The outlaws are held in check only by their notorious leader, but he is diagnosed with a fatal wound and the town is a powder keg waiting to blow.
American Wallace Ritchie (Bill Murray) gets a ticket for an audience participation game in London, England, then gets involved in a case of mistaken identity. As an international plot unravels around him, he thinks it's all part of the act.
Classic comedic timing, hilarious plot, solid cast and good writing...yes, see it!
The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)
There are those who think Bill Murray can do no wrong, that he has an impeccable comic flair and intelligence that drive even mediocre fare. And I'm one of them.
And this is relatively humdrum stuff on one level--though the basic idea of spoofing a spy superstar is as old and reliable as James Bond himself. (I mean, Bond spoofs were around when Sean Connery was still 007.) And the writing is really very witty here, giving two prongs forward in this mostly funny, always fast affair.
That is--I laughed a lot! That's the goal. The cold war themes of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. going head to head were old even in 1997 but of course not old for James Bond, and this does harken back somehow to the original. Murray plays a classic type--the hero who succeeds by accident. Often, it's the absurdity and illogic of this odd hero that makes him successful, surprising the professionals and seeming brazen and original. And so he is.
The plot is simple--some bad guys have a bomb that's going to go off in five hours. We know that at the start, and so the rest is loaded with anticipation and dread as the deadline nears. We also know (in this sort of movie) that no harm will come to Murray's cheerful, doltish American type. So the race against the clock is a series of gags and spoofs and lucky twists, all good for laughs. Murray is the key to it all, playing the naive participant with that uncanny timing and innocent face too well, over and over. If it were only about Murry this would be a 10 star masterpiece. The rest of the cast, and the eventual inevitability of the plot, hold it back, though. So it is what it is, still a great romp.
You want more than that? You won't get it. But why would you? Enjoy.
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