I hadn’t seen Quick Change since it was initially released to VHS in the early 90’s, and I remember it was a funny flick with some funny scenes and of course Bill Murray at his deadpan best. (Bill Murray and Steve Martin are the 2 guys who I could watch make toast and somehow think it hilarious. No-one currently making comedies has the same aura to me.)
After revisiting QC tonight I was stoked to realise that my initial impressions were correct. In fact, most so called “comedies” of the last 10 years might take a few tips from this little flick.
First the plot, then the kudos. Bill Murray is Grimm, a pretty smart guy who hasn’t really done anything with his life and who hates living in New York so he decides to rob a bank of 1 MILLION DOLLARS! (apparently a huge sum in the 80’s though it seems comparatively insignificant now) and solve both problems.
As can be seen in the poster he dresses as a clown to pull the heist, rightfully assuming that no-one would see past his makeup and outfit when describing the events. After successfully completing the robbery with minimal effort a slip up puts the cops on the trail, lead by Jason Robards as the head cop desperate for a big collar, and Grimm his girlfriend Phyllis and doofus mate Loomis spend the rest of the film trying to escape New York.
What the film does so well is realise what it is and stay within the limitations of the genre. At a tight 80 odd minutes in duration no time is wasted introducing unnecessary plot points or characters, and every character that appears in the film adds a little to proceedings, especially the security guard who becomes increasingly brave each time he recounts his take on the events.
The film doesn’t try to solve any world issues and though the plot is lightweight and the three fugitives find themselves in increasingly absurd situations they never overstay or overplay a joke. In fact most of the humour comes from Bill Murray’s throwaway comments and some of the 30 second dealings with random New Yorkers, most notably the Hispanic bicycle jousters and the militant busdriver.
Geena Davis (inexplicably considered a sex symbol by some) as Phyllis, the girlfriend with a secret, and Randy Quaid as Loomis do their best when they stay out of Murray’s way. In fact without Murray this flick wouldn’t be half as good as it is, he is at his sarcastic peak and it is his interaction with bit characters and how he handles the various inconveniences that make the film.
After a finale in which Grim has 1 minute and 45 seconds to make a vital deadline (that takes about 6 minutes of screen time,) the credits roll and I realised 2 things: current filmmakers overcomplicate things and the title really doesn’t make much sense.
Also Bill Murray rocked the 80s.
Final Rating 8/10. Definitely worth a look if you can find it at the video shop. Or more relevantly these days if you can find a video shop…