Tag Archives: Brian Doyle Murray

The Set of 400: #16 – My Favorite Toast to World Peace

Today! Because we’d better get going if we’re going to stay ahead of the weather –

Groundhog Day (1993)

Directed by Harold Ramis (x3)

Starring Bill Murray (x13), Andie MacDowell (x4), Chris Elliott (x2), Stephen Tobolowsky (x5), Brian Doyle-Murray (x6), Robin Duke (x2), David Pasquesi, Rick Ducommun (x5), Marita Geraghty, Michael Shannon, Harold Ramis (x4), Rick Overton (x2), Willie Garson (x6), Angela Paton, Ken Hudson Campbell (x2)

The greatest pure comedy screenplay ever written, Groundhog Day is an unabashed masterpiece, forever imitated across genres and styles but never topped. I like Happy Death Day and Edge of Tomorrow as much as anybody, but the sheer brilliance of Ramis’s handling of this material (and extensive rewriting of the original script) coupled with Murray’s best performance will always give this movie the nod over the knock-offs.

Tough luck, weird baby mask killer!

What has certainly helped this movie stick around – besides its obvious greatness – is that it finally gave the rest of the country something to do on February 2nd. Punxsutawney is in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, and appears wholly incapable of supporting any manner of major celebration. Once upon a time we happened to be driving across PA on 2/2, and would’ve needed to stay over somewhere in the western portion of the state anyway, and hotels were jammed literally everywhere around Punxsutawney. Who the hell actually goes to Gobbler’s Knob anyway? Lots of folks, apparently! Is this due to Groundhog Day? It wasn’t even filmed there, probably for the same reason you can’t just pop in on the holiday! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #41 – My Favorite Free Bowl of Soup

Today! Because I got that going for me, which is nice –

Caddyshack (1980)

Directed by Harold Ramis (x2)

Starring Chevy Chase (x4), Rodney Dangerfield, Michael O’Keefe, Bill Murray (x9), Ted Knight, Cindy Morgan, Sarah Holcomb (x2), Scott Colomby, Brian Doyle-Murray (x5), Ann Ryerson, Albert Salmi, Elaine Aiken, Henry Wilcoxon, John F. Barmon Jr.

I’m guessing the main reason I didn’t see Caddyshack for long time was that I’d seen Caddyshack II first. And while to a ten year old II’s nonsense retread antics aren’t all that bad – oh, that funny gopher! Dan Aykroyd! Jackie Mason! Kenny Loggins’ “Noboby’s Fool”! – it obviously isn’t a movie that would inspire you to seek out others in the series (plus it thankfully murdered any concept of this becoming a franchise). So while I certainly caught heavily edited glimpses of the original, it was probably high school before I finally watched the whole bawdy golf masterpiece in all its glory.

I’ll admit, Caddyshack is a bizarre conglomeration of stuff that only barely holds together as a movie. The original concept just centered on the caddies, easily the weakest and most forgettable part of the final film, and probably recognizing this they enhanced the roles and importance of all the high caliber comedians brought in (you’d assume) to bolster this plot. Thus you end up with the disparate stylings of Rodney Dangerfield – never better than as boorish new club member Al Czervik, Ted Knight’s permanently outraged Judge Smails, Chevy Chase’s best non-Griswold creation of slick golf whiz Ty Webb, and the king himself, Bill Murray in the basically unscripted groundskeeper/gopher antagonist role of Carl, whose every line has probably found its way onto a t-shirt by now.

Lord knows I’ve got my share

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The Set of 400: #119 – My Favorite Attic Home Movies

Today! Because I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery –

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Starring Chevy Chase (x3), Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid (x3), Juliette Lewis (x3), Johnny Galecki, Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall (x3), Doris Roberts, John Randolph, William Hickey (x3), Mae Questel, Miriam Flynn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (x2), Nicholas Guest, Brian Doyle-Murray (x4), Sam McMurray, Alexander Folk, Cody Burger, Ellen Latzen, Nicolette Scorsese

The funniest Christmas movie ever made, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation also falls into that oft-mentioned scenario where I think of its predecessors as being prequels. In other cases like this, it usually plays out that the sequel is so vastly superior to the original movie that I can’t help but think of the films this way. Here though, the issue is more that I’ve seen (and I actively see) Christmas Vacation way more than Vacation or European Vacation. The original Vacation is still a really funny movie, and without it some little bits in Christmas probably wouldn’t work as well – some, like the car getting such major air, are straight retread jokes – but I’m going to estimate that I’ve seen Christmas Vacation three or four dozen times in my life, whereas I’ve probably sat and watched Vacation once in the last two decades.

It also has one of the most perfect last lines in movie history

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The Set of 400: #185 – My Favorite Boot Hat

Today! Because so much for rule #1 –

Multiplicity (1996)

Directed by Harold Ramis

Starring Michael Keaton (x4), Andie MacDowell (x3), Harris Yulin, Eugene Levy (x2), Richard Masur, Brian Doyle-Murray (x3), John de Lancie, Ann Cusack, Julie Bowen, Robin Duke, Robert Ridgely (x3), Glenn Shadix (x2)

While it still might be a better idea for a movie than how it actually turned out, Multiplicity is nonetheless a very funny, solidly entertaining film. After a lengthy sojourn into superhero costumery and relatively effective dramas, Michael Keaton got back to his all out comedic roots portraying Doug Kinney (named for legendary National Lampoon writer Doug Kenney) and his clones. It’s a pan-and-scan nightmare of a film, so find it in widescreen or get ready for the whiplash! They want you to see all the clones, it’s understandable, but man, the camera sliding all over the goddamn place.

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The Set of 400: #227 – My Favorite Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Today! Because I’m sure Charles Dickens would have wanted to see her nipples –

Scrooged (1988)

Directed by Richard Donner (x2)

Starring Bill Murray (x6), Karen Allen (x2), Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane (x3), Robert Mitchum (x3), John Glover (x4), Michael J. Pollard (x2), Alfre Woodard (x2), John Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray (x2), John Forsythe, Mary Lou Retton, Lee Majors, Buddy Hackett, John Houseman (x2), Jamie Farr, Robert Goulet (x2), Mary Ellen Trainor (x3), Kathy Kinney, Tony Steedman, Anne Ramsey (x2), Joel Murray, Mabel King (x2), Pat McCormick, Bruce Jarchow, Jack McGee, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Wendie Malick

A Christmas Carol isn’t an inherently funny story, and yet there have been many, many attempts to make it so. Most are musicals, and that helps to lighten the mood, but anything attempting an even halfway accurate recounting of the book usually ends up relatively straight. Even the excellent Muppet version devolves into a typical Christmas Carol about halfway through. There has been better success on television, but usually they take the story pretty far afield to find jokes. The terrific British series Black Adder has probably the funniest rendition (it helps if you’re a little familiar with that show to begin with) which turns the whole plot on its head, making Rowan Atkinson’s Scrooge character the nicest man in the world, who is shown how things were for his evil ancestors by Robbie Coltrane’s Marley/Ghosts figure. Mr. Magoo’s is one of the best straightforward musical versions, but it relegates its Magoo-esque humor to the framing scenes.

“Well, bless my ten toes!”

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The Set of 400: #357 – My Favorite Conspiracy Theory

Today! Because it’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma –

JFK (1991)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Starring Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones (x2), Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon (x2), Gary Oldman, Laurie Metcalf, Sissy Spacek, Jack Lemmon, Donald Sutherland (x2), Walter Matthau, Ed Asner, John Candy (x2), Sally Kirkland, Vincent D’Onofrio (x2), John Larroquette, Ron Rifkin, Bob Gunton, Michael Rooker, Jay O. Sanders, Brian Doyle-Murray, Wayne Knight, Beata Pozniak, Gary Grubbs, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Frank Whaley

Like most eighth graders, I had a big JFK assassination phase. It was probably prompted by this movie, but there also was a lot of new press swirling around the event at the time of movie’s release, so maybe a combination of the two. Figure, even though the movie very directly covers the trial of Clay Shaw, it also proposes a lot of theories regarding the assassination that maybe hadn’t been widely disseminated, or widely considered, before then. So the press around it was crazy, and 12-year-old Joe got sucked in. I distinctly remember prowling Holy Rosary’s dinky library trying to uncover all the details I could find, in encyclopedias, mostly (shoutout to my long closed middle school!). Continue reading

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