Larger Than Life

Year: 1996
Production Co: Trilogy Entertainment Group
Director: Howard Franklin
Cast: Bill Murray, Janeane Garofalo, Linda Fiorentino, Jeremy Piven
At the end of the 1990s, Bill Murray found himself in the wilderness. The dry charm, the sardonic shtick audiences loved about him in every film from Meatballs to Ghostbusters was starting to wane, and this was one of the few films (along with The Man Who Knew Too Little) where he still tried to capitalise on the goofy, broadly comic persona but people weren't terribly interested any more.

He might have been the comedy genre's Steven Seagal, a laughing stock languishing in straight-to-video fodder, every one the same, none of them exciting any more, had it not been for the Bill Murray Renaissance, where filmmakers from Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and Wes Anderson (Rushmore) to Jim Jarmusch (Coffee and Cigarettes, Broken Flowers) realised what great use the sardonic dryness could be put.

The simple description of the story is of a successful motivational speaker who realises he owns an elephant through some bizarre inheritance. Cue every joke about an urbane, busy professional having to drag a one tonne mammal across America ('How much is your salad bar? No, I mean the whole bar... to go, please'). Finally he - big surprise here - learns that he loves the creature, prompting what must be the stupidest pivotal line in movie history; 'They always say an elephant never forgets. What they don't tell you is that you never forget an elephant.'

It would have been an incredibly drab comedy except for Murray installed to do his thing.

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