Then again, I grew up with Bill Murray, metaphorically speaking. From his days on Saturday Night Live to hit movies such as Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog's Day and nowadays to his almost regular appearances in Wes Anderson's films, Murray has become a constant mainstay in the pop culture arena. Particularly odd, considering his random public appearances and legendary difficulty to contact directly.
Perhaps the upcoming literary tribute to him, The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg, is pop culture perfect for both old fans like me and the new ones just catching up. The book is a biographical encyclopedia that covers nearly every aspect of Murray's life and times, with a mixture of fact and anecdotes about the man that is Murray. And yes, there is a special entry for one of his most famous SNL characters, Nick the Lounge Singer, who he first created during his time at Second City and is loosely based on a real life entertainer:
Not only are there detailed entries for each of his films(with a special ratings system that defines the "Murray" level of excellence in each performance), the book also highlights casting opportunities that he missed or refused like The Witches of Eastwick, Toy Story and Philadelphia(yes, that Tom Hanks movie).
It also reminds you of other TV shows that he showed up in, such as an episode of the cult classic sitcom Square Pegs where he played a fun substitute teacher. I totally adored that show back in the day and can't believe I forgot all about this one!:
The Razor's Edge was a personal passion of his, using the early buzz from the first Ghostbusters movie to get the studio to back the project. The backlash from both fans and critics made him retreat from the movie industry for about four years, which in some ways was a smart decision and a needed refresh for his career.
The film has gotten better reassessments as time goes on, yet Murray feels that the whole thing was a mistake. Personally, I don't think it was that bad but then again, I did pay to see Scrooged twice when it was in theaters(and I don't regret that!):
It's to author Robert Schnakenberg's credit that he doesn't shy away from the more volatile side of Murray's personality. From persistent pranks such as a certain phone call he makes every time Road House is on to fights with Martin Mull and Chevy Chase(who both earned the insult "medium talent"), Murray's charms do not wear well with everyone.
That can also work for him,however as the movie What About Bob? proves in abundance. Richard Dreyfuss's preference for theater style acting clashed with Murray's freewheeling approach, making their on screen friction all the more believable and entertaining to watch:
The book will be released on September 15 and while many people will be adding it to their holiday gift lists, this is a fun gift to give to yourself.
In roaming the pages of The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, I found myself pleasantly engaged in recalling those past moments of fun that Murray has given us over the years and makes me look forward to more of his particular brand of mirth as time goes on. I can now understand why to some fans, a guy like Bill Murray is truly a one of a kind that deserves to be sitting in a special spotlight and that we should appreciate him all the more for refusing to get stale: