When most people think of a comedic actor, the memory will often be of a quote. For example, Jim Carrey makes me think of “Alrighty, then!” Rodney Dangerfield just screams, “Hey everybody, we’re all going to get laid!”
This is not the case for all actors. Not too long ago, some friends and I came to the conclusion that no matter how many movies we have seen with Bill Murray, no one could quote a quintessential Murray-ism. He has taken on many great parts, but we still drew a blank when it came to Murray. So as I thought “what about Bill?” the first movie that popped into my mind was What About Bob?
Murray plays Bob Wiley, a man whose life is addled by phobias. He fears everything from germs to the possibility that his bladder could explode if he can’t find a bathroom. As a way to get rid of him, Bob’s psychiatrist closes down his practice and shoves Bob off onto another shrink, Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss.
Bob visits Dr. Marvin for an interview and is quickly shown the door with instructions to make an appointment for after Dr. Marvin’s vacation. Bob can’t handle the pain of not being able to talk with the doctor and eventually tracks him down on vacation, just to continue his appointments.
Realizing that Bob has become reliant on his doctors to keep him from going completely crazy, Dr. Marvin gives him a prescription to “take a vacation from his problems” and to go back to the city where he is to wait until after Labour Day for his appointment. Bob takes the prescription to heart and decides to take a vacation at the same lake as Dr. Marvin.
What follows is the almost obvious story of a patient who takes control of his problems and a doctor who spirals downward towards insanity, yet that does not matter. While guessing what is going to happen in the next scene is possible, the movie still keeps the audience interested due to the amazing chemistry between Murray and Dreyfuss as they take on the other’s role, with Murray becoming the voice of reason and Dreyfuss the patient.
I give this movie 7 out of 10. While it gains points for excellent comedic timing, it loses out due to the predictable storyline.
What About Bob?
Directed by Frank Oz, 1991
Starring Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty, Kathryn Erbe and Charlie Korsmo
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