Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quick Change (1990)

The Big Apple has taken too many bites out of Grimm.

The city planner (Bill Murray) is more than just tired of New York City. He wants out, badly. Fiji beckons. Grimm plans a bank heist to finance his very anticipated departure from the city that never sleeps. He'll do it dressed as a clown carrying a bunch of colorful balloons and sporting a pair of red oversized shoes.

Girlfriend Phyllis Potter (Geena Davis) and an old chum, Loomis (Randy Quaid), join him in the caper.


The robbery goes smoothly, but the trio's getaway gets bogged down by clueless municipal workers, jittery tenants, confused mobsters and by-the-book bus drivers. Their planned Quick Change from bank robbers to carefree tropical residents hits some serious snags including weary Police Chief Rotzinger (Jason Robards). He, like Grimm, is also tired of New York City, but realizes the major metropolitan centre could be his best ally in stopping the fugitives.

Not all the comedy in this 1990 effort from Howard Franklin and Murray (his only directing credit) has aged well. But there's still plenty of zingers that score big laughs. Quick Change is another welcome entry to Murray's film credits including Groundhog Day and Rushmore.

Bob Elliott, of Bob and Ray fame, gets one of the best early lines as an easily defeated bank security guard. "What the hell kind of clown are you?" he asks when Grimm pulls out a hand gun at the start of the heist.


Listen closely to the quick asides some of the characters toss out that make up for those jokes that fall flat. "The man owns pre-schools in this town," Grimm says about major mobster Lombino (Kurtwood Smith)."You don't even understand colours, do you?" Loomis notes of an English challenged cab driver who drives through a red light. Brian McConnachie, who penned work for Saturday Night Live and SCTV, is a hoot as the bank manager who calmly explains to Rotzinger how his company will use its public relations muscle to make him the scapegoat for the robbery.

Quick Change also conjures up scenes that are completely bizarre, bicyclists jousting and a mourning woman, and observational, hot dog vendors looking to cash in on public interest in the bank robbery.

Even better films would follow from Murray in the next decade, but Quick Change still offers a good investment for a viewer's time.

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: Quick Change came just before a powerful one-two punch for Davis, Thelma and Louise (1991) and A League of Their Own (1992). Howard Franklin wrote the screenplay for another Murray film, The Man Who Knew Too Little, in 1997. That effort is for diehard Murray fans only. Stuart Rudin, who makes a brief appearance in Quick Change, would show up again, for a moment, in Murray's What About Bob? Jay Cronley's novel, Hold-Up, inspired Quick Change. He also wrote works that prompted the filming of Funny Farm and Let It Ride.

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