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Why a Hollywood hotshot would chose to mingle with his audience, sometimes for hours, is the question documentarian Tommy Avallone tries to answer in this rather fine film. We see the famous grainy footage: Bill tending bar, Bill washing dishes at a party, Bill treating a stranger to World Series tickets, and we meet the giddy recipients of these pop-up moments.
As theories are bandied about, it becomes clear that there is something transcendently magical about these experiences, for everyone involved. Less about giving, and more about sharing, Murray's connections are real, unscripted, joyous.
Tommy spends the whole of the movie tracking down the elusive movie star, culminating in an encounter which plays true to the spirit that Murray has cultivated.
Quite a lot of fun.
If you love Bill Murray, you'll love this movie. If you don't, after watching this movie, you'll love Bill Murry... then, after you've watched the movie a second time, you'll love this movie.
The stories are legendary, but many are true: Murray crashing a couple's engagement photo; joining a kickball game in a public park; DJ'ing at a birthday gathering; or serving as a roadie and tambourine player for a band at a house party.
CNN writer David Allen posits that, in an era when people are glued to their phones or sleepwalking through life, Murray wants to wake them up - remind them to live in the moment and be mindful of what's around them.
"You know, I'm not always aware that I'm thinking of what I want them to take away from it," Murray told Rolling Stone. "My hope is that it's going to wake me up. If I see someone who's out cold on their feet, I'm going to try to wake them up. Cause it's the same thing; it's what I'd want someone to do for me. Just wake me up."
The film attributes this to Murray's background in improv comedy, which forces participants to be acutely aware of the moment and react creatively.
"Bill can take these small moments and transfer them into something memorable," says Avallone. "He seems to just have this chameleon-type quality when it comes to social situations. He comes into peoples lives, gets a feel for the room and then makes the moment something special."
The photographer who took the engagement photo, Raheel Gauba of Charleston, S.C., agrees.
"It wasn't really a photo bomb, where he just randomly popped up in a photo. ... Bill showing up in the most unexpected of places, giving a piece of himself, giving a little memory to someone -'memory bombing' would be a more appropriate term."
Tyler Van Aiken owns an Austin, Texas, bar where Murray visited, befriended an employee and ended up tending bar. He thinks the actor simply has come to terms with his unique level of fame.
"How crazy would it be if you walked around town and everyone loved you? ... That would be exhausting," Van Aiken says. "But he seems to have turned it on its head and just gone with it - and realized that he has the power to make other people have an amazing experience."
CNN's Allen spots a deeper theme that recurs in Murray's films: "It just doesn't matter."
"Things are always up and down. Good things can lead to bad things; bad things can lead to good things. If you have this 'It just doesn't matter,' if you have this more Zen, if you will, outlook on it, and can look at the big picture of it, your whole life is going to be more even keel."
Ultimately, filmmaker Avallone concludes that people don't cherish their encounters with Murray because they met a celebrity. "It's because they had a real interaction with a real person," he says.
Director Peter Farrelly, who worked with Murray on Kingpin, puts it this way: "Part of Bill's charm when he shows up is not to take over. Like, when he shows up to someone's house and does this kind of thing, he wants to be in the house and part of the gang. That's the joke. He's not tap dancing or juggling, he's sitting there watching TV with them. And yet it's Bill Murray. And that's part of it. It's not showing up to entertain; it's showing up to be present."
Stu Robinson practices writing, editing, media relations and social media through his business, Phoenix-based Lightbulb Communications.