January 16, 2013

Quick Change (1990)
Starring Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid

Comments:  For more than thirty years, Bill Murray has been one of the mainstays of American comedy movies.  His movies, from Caddyshack, to Stripes, to Ghostbusters, to Groundhog Day, heck even his minor comedies like What About Bob? and Scrooged and Meatballs, are almost unanimously considered the cream of the crop when it comes to comedy over the past three decades.  In fact, many people (not me, but many other people) consider Caddyshack to be the single funniest movie ever made.

Heck, when I was a kid, there was NO movie that was quoted more often than Stripes was.  Between Caddyshack and Stripes (and later Ghostbusters), you might as well have just called the early 80's "The Bill Murray years."

That is why the story I am about to share with you is so special.  Because you have to keep in mind the context from which it comes from.  Caddyshack and Stripes are beloved.  No, they aren't just beloved, they are flat out worshipped.  For an entire generation of people, Caddyshack might be the single most revered comedy ever made.  And Stripes was actually used as a question on the World Series of Pop Culture Entrance Exam.  If you wanted to be a part of the World Series of Pop Culture in 2006 and 2007, you had to be able to identify a quote from Stripes.  There weren't many other movies that you had to know a quote from.  But when it came to the biggest pop culture trivia tournament in all of the land, if you didn't know your quotes from Stripes then they didn't want you.

Arrrrrrmy training, sir!

So anyway, flash forward to the year 1998.  Bill Murray was a guest one night on The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn.  This was a show that I watched every night, and I actually still have this episode on tape if you don't believe that Murray actually said this.

That night on the show, Kilborn was doing his famous "5 Questions" segment.  This was a segment where Kilby picked five random questions to ask a guest, and the guest (Bill Murray) had to sit there and answer them in rapid fire style, all in a row.  It was always a fun little segment.

Well one of the five questions that Kilborn asked Murray that night was "Name two really funny Bill Murray movies."

Now obviously you know what the correct answers are.  The big three Bill Murray movies have always been Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, and Stripes.  For most people, this really isn't even negotiable.  For an entire generation of American audiences, those three have always been the big three Bill Murray movies.  And I guess you can throw Groundhog Day in there too, since a lot of people seem to like that one as well.

Well when he was asked this question, Bill Murray didn't even hesitate.  Craig Kilborn said "Name two really funny Bill Murray movies" and without hesitation Bill Murray said "Quick Change and the first Ghostbusters."

And I remember smiling and thinking "Yes!'  Because it turns out I'm not the only person out there who is a fan of Quick Change.

Quick Change is a quirky little comedy that came out in 1990, and it has long been on my list of the world's most underrated comedy movies.   Oh, how underrated is it?  Well Quick Change wasn't even available on DVD until the mid 2000's.  For years the only way you could track it down was to find an old beat up copy of it on VHS at a yard sale or something.  I'm not even sure it was even available on Amazon.

And remember, this is a Bill Murray movie.  This was a Bill Murray movie that had a major release and was at one time a fairly well known hit.  And up until around 2005 you could barely even even find it on VHS!

Not only that, but this is a movie that Bill Murray himself called one of the two funniest Bill Murray movies.  The man himself said it was one of his two best movies, in fact he even named it BEFORE he named Ghostbusters.  And for years the only people who even knew about it were the ones who were lucky enough to have seen it in a theater.

Good lord.  That is just amazing.  Quick Change might be the single most underrated comedy movie ever made.

Quick Change is the story of a man named Grimm (Bill Murray).  And, well, one day Grimm decides he is going to rob a bank.  He decides that he hates living in New York, he hates the people of New York, he hates just about everything about New York.  So he decides he wants to give the finger to the city of New York on the way out of town.  

His plan is to pull off the ultimate bank robbery.  He wants to get so much money, and embarrass the city so badly when he makes them all look like fools, that people will be talking him for years after he is gone.  He wants to leave New York City as a legend.  And he wants to show the city how much he has always hated it.

So he sits down and he comes up with the ultimate bank robbery.

He robs a bank dressed like a clown

I don't want to tell you how he successfully pulls off the bank robbery, because that is one of the best parts of the movie.  In fact the first thirty minutes of Quick Change are among the funniest first thirty minutes of a movie I have ever seen.  Bill Murray was dead on when he called this one of his two funniest movies.  The first thirty minutes are just one great scene and one great one-liner after another.  Bill Murray has never been more deadpan or more sarcastic than he was during the bank scenes.

There is a reason that I have always said that Quick Change is among my top 20 most quotable movies.  It is all because of the bank scenes.

Hey, that's MISTER Bozo to you.

Once he gets out of the bank with the money, Grimm thinks he has it made.  After all, the hard part of the plan is now over.  He has the money.  And the police have no way to catch him.  From here on out, he should be on easy street.  All he has to do is get out of New York City and hop on a plane to some tropical island.

And that is where things start to get complicated.

The rest of the movie is the city of New York just fucking with him.  You remember how Grimm hates NYC so bad and how he wants to escape it?  You remember how he hates New York and how he hates the people of New York with every fiber of his being?  Well Quick Change is the ultimate hate letter to everything you have always hated about New York City.  Grimm just runs into one random New York City mishap after another.  He just runs into one annoying New York city resident after another.  And of course, over the last hour of the movie, Bill Murray (in true Bill Murray fashion) just starts to get more and more pissed off about it.

Bill Murray and Randy Quaid trying to find some sort of a street sign

I remember seeing Quick Change in the theater when it first came out.  I went to see it with my parents in 1990.  And I remember thinking it was funny, but it was nothing special.  Yeah, it was cute.  And yeah, there were some funny moments.  And yeah, there were some good one liners.  But at the time I wouldn't have ranked it anywhere near Ghostbusters.  Heck, at the time I wouldn't have ranked it anywhere near The Goonies.  I remember thinking it was a fun but ultimately forgettable little comedy movie.

And then my friend Brian came to school and he started quoting it.  

My friend Brian sat next to me in band (we both played the trumpet) and he saw Quick Change one night and he came to school wanting to tell me about it.  He started telling me how funny the bus driver scene was.  And as he was describing it, I remember thinking back and remembered laughing a lot at that scene too.  And then I started thinking about some of the other scenes.  I remembered all the great quotes during the bank robbery.  I remembered the famous "bluftoni" scene (you will know it when you see it).  I remembered the scene with the mob ("this aint my dick in your back!")  And I remember sitting there laughing about it.  

Quick Change is one of those movies that you just sit there and think about, and it can make you randomly laugh.  It happens to me all the time.


Quick Change was released on VHS in 1991, and for whatever reason my parents bought it for me that year for Christmas.  It was one of the first movies I ever owned.  And to say that my brother and I devoured that tape would be kind of an understatement.  We just put it on on endless loop in our basement, and it quickly became one of our most quotable movies.   Pretty soon my brother and I could have entire conversations where all we did was quote Quick Change.

"This aint my dick in your back!"  "That's a relief."

"At least give me the women." "Get your own women!"


"No code!"

"Bluftoni!  Honk Honk!"

"Then he cold cocked me, son of a bitch.  I think he had a Bowie knife."

"He said he would carve up the troublemakers first!"

"Anyone want it?  It's got a moon on it."

"You're ruining Mrs. Russ Crane's beverage service!"

"Whattya got shit in your ears?!  Come on!"

"And that's here in area code 212?"

Bluftoni.  Honk Honk.

I know that none of those quotes mean anything to you, but man, I am thinking about them right now and I am sitting here laughing.  Like I said, Quick Change is easily one of my most quotable movies.  I cannot believe it was forgotten by history as completely as it was.

As a follow up to this story, a couple of years later I was in college.  I would say this was 1994 or so.  And here I was thinking that my brother and I were the only people in the world who obsessively quoted Quick Change.

Well one day in college my RA (Resident Advisor) said that he was bringing in a bunch of his favorite movies from home.  He said he wanted our floor to have a movie night, and that everyone was invited.  And then he said that he wanted to show everyone his favorite comedy, Quick Change.

Wait, what?  Are you shitting me?  Somebody else in the world loves Quick Change?!  And it turns out he is my college RA?

That story actually has a funny ending.  My RA was kicked out of college a couple of weeks later because he got caught drinking in his room.  But before he left, he loaned me his VHS copy of Quick Change.  So I was in possession of it when all of a sudden one day he was gone.  Campus security cleared out his room and we never heard from the guy or saw him again.  So I technically still have Jeff's VHS copy of Quick Change in a box in my garage.  Jeff, on the off chance that you ever read this entry, I still have your tape.  I never did throw it away.  Please tell me where I can mail it.  :)

In any case, Quick Change is one of the all time great underrated comedy movies, and it is a movie that I still quote and love even to this very day.  It is a crime that it was forgotten as completely as it was.  It is easily one of the most quotable comedies ever.  EASILY.  If you love Bill Murray, if you love Bill Murray's style of sly deadpan sarcastic commentary, you will love it.  

Oh, and I should also point out that Bill Murray actually directed this movie.  It was the only movie he ever directed.  And then when it didn't become a hit (and because he had a fight with the studio) he gave up and he never directed a movie again.

As you can guess, I really think he should have directed more movies.

"Quick Change and the first Ghostbusters."  That is a direct quote from Bill Murray himself.  Those movies, in that order.

Never forget that quote.

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about Quick Change

Truly one of the most underrated movies ever - 23 May 2005
I don't blame Bill Murray for being angry with Warner Bros. for not promoting this movie. Quick Change is one of the most underrated films I have ever seen.

Murray, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid are hysterical at every turn with their own neuroses. If you live in new York City and have not seen this movie--get off your a**. You will find yourself in tears laughing at the quips on the city and the people who live there. It's truly a shame that QC didn't get the box office treatment that Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day did. Because I think it's funnier than both. (And this is coming from a HUGE fan of both.) Please see this movie. You will not be sorry.

Murray at his best in New York - 8 October 1998
"Quick Change" is funny. Bottom line, everything in the film works. The cast has amazing chemistry, the scenes are tight, allowing the story to progress without skipping a beat, and the laughs abound one after another--while still maintaining a level of suspense. Even the story is every bored office person's dream come true--let's rob a bank, get out of town to some exotic island and escape this life of misery. Bill Murray, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid are the notorious bank robbers that can't seem to get out of New York City with their loot. If that weren't enough, the endless barrage of effective supporting characters makes their plight even more hilarious. Bob Elliott, Phil Hartman, Philip Bosco, and Stanley Tucci (as well as others) give the film the colorful cast of characters that have become New York City's trademark. Look for Bob Elliott's scene as a bank security guard attempting to describe the robber(s) to a police sketch artist. And Academy Award-winning Jason Robards provides the vital calm in an otherwise insane storm, ever-eager to capture the clowning robbers. It's a shame that this film never really caught on with audiences. Bad timing, an R-rating, competing films--any one or a combination of all three could have been the culprit. It's too bad, because it's a great movie. And it truly is a shame that Murray has yet to receive his reward for being such a comedic genius. "Quick Change" provides relief to any urbanite who needs to escape the hustle and bustle of the city streets. Even if it is for only 90 minutes or so.

under-rated gem - 27 September 1998
This is a clever, hysterical movie that was ignored during its initial release. Murray, Davis, and Quaid are perfect as the too-clever-by-half bank robbers, and the supporting cast is equally as perfect including Stanley Tucci as a not-too bright Mafioso, Bob Elliot's fake-tough bank guard, Phillip Bosco's by the book Bus Driver, Jason Robard's tired supercop, and especially Tony Shalhoub's incoherent cab driver. Murray is at his sarcastic dead-pan best as the world-class bank robber who can't seem to get out of New York City. A classic that everybody seems to forget about. See it again.

Underrated Comedy Classic - 26 June 2008
This is one of the best comedies I've seen. Bill Murray not only stars but directs this one, and he should be damn proud of his accomplishment. This movie is a laugh-fest.

You won't regret watching this one. The three main players are all in their apex. Murray is fantastic as usual and Randy Quaid is hysterical. Tony Shalhoub has a small but VERY memorable part.

This is one of those rare, great, infinitely "quotable" movies. There's irony, sarcasm, slapstick, you can find all kinds of humor here, and even some suspense to keep things interesting. This is great to watch with friends, there are a couple of scenes that will almost certainly make you spit your soda.

You want to laugh, watch this. Definitely an underrated comedy classic.

Quick Change is Hilarious! - 2 January 2009
I just saw this recently and I'm surprised I've never heard much of it before. This movie is hilarious! I've liked most of Bill Murray's comedies but this one is maybe his very best. He is awesome and so is Geena Davis. Randy Quaid is hilarious as the slow-witted sidekick. I don't want to give away the plot but it involves a bank robbery and the attempted getaway. Bill Murray is at his sarcastic best in this movie so if you are a fan of his or of heist comedies in general I guarantee you will love this movie. Quick Change is one of the best comedies I have ever seen in my entire life. The scenes where they catch the bus and have to deal with the bus driver alone are worth watching the movie.

Not just a film about a bank robbery, A film about either loving or hating New York - 10 January 2012
It really is. I mean the whole plot premise is eat up with why they commit this robbery...to get outta New York!!!!

The whole film is eat up with situations about how New York is noisy, inconvenient and just plain full of odd characters. Of course you throw in Bill Murray and you get one hilariously planned bank robbery gone "not so perfect".

For me this film is for Americans who understand good quick 1 liners. Don't just pay attention to the scenes/scenario, listen to the dialogue carefully and pull out the great screen writing. Like Caddyshack and other American films that most Europeans love to hate, this is another one that just has that American sensibility about it...crazy and funny. Throw in a few cameos with Tony Shaloub and Phil Hartman and this is one film you just shouldn't miss.

A great little movie - 16 August 2002
This is a great little movie. What's important to keep in mind though is that it is little. But that's an amazing accomplishment to pull off when you've got stars like Bill Murray and Geena Davis. If you you're looking for the Bill Murray big movie experience, stick with Ghostbusters. If you're willing kick back and open yourself to the little, idiosyncratic world created here, you're in for a treat.

* My favorite quotes from Quick Change

Oh God.  I could list about 50 of these, this movie is just a 90 minute long string of one liners.  But here are some of my favorites.

Bank Guard: What the Hell kind of clown are you?
Grimm: The crying on the inside kind, I guess.

Street Barker: Nude women! Nude women
[Grimm dressed as a clown walks by]
Street Barker: Clowns welcome! Clowns welcome!

Loomis: Is that our plane?
Phyllis: No, if it were our plane, it would be crashing.

Flight Attendant: Do you think you're late enough?
Grimm: Oh, you must be from around here.

[during hostage negotiations]
Chief Rotzinger: At least give me the women.
Grimm: Get your own women!

Loomis: Ten thousand dollars for a taxi!
Phyllis: And a blow job!

[An old Hispanic woman is shouting gibberish on a street corner]
Grimm: There must be alot of competition for that corner.

Chief Rotzinger: Did he hurt anybody else? Is the strain beginning to show on him?
Grimm: "If I could sleep ten days and nights in a rice paddy, I could certainly last in this lousy bank." This is what the animal said to us! He says to Ms. Cochran here:
[makes humping motions at Phyllis] "Baby! Up your butt with a coconut!" I think he was prepared to do it! Except I saw no coconut. He, uh, he had no coconut to my knowledge.

Phyllis: Great! We'll have to sail a raft to Fiji like Thor Heyerdahl!

[Johnny holds a gun to Grimm's back]
Johnny: This ain't my dick in your back!
Grimm: That's a relief.

[The hostage negotiator suggests Grimm let all his hostages go]
Grimm [chuckling]: Oh I'm sure no harm will come to me once I'm inside the bank all by myself.

Grimm: I was in 'Nam with a jerk like you.
Policeman: Oh boy.

Grimm: When you say "near" the airport...
Bus Driver: .48 miles.
Grimm: Alright. When do we get there?
Bus Driver: 22:30 hours.
Grimm: When is that? In human time.
Bus Driver: 10:30.
Grimm: 10:30. Say you had to walk it...
Bus Driver: With that injured individual?
Grimm: Yes.
Bus Driver: I can't give you a precise figure on that.
Grimm: Come on! Make a guess.
Bus Driver: 21 minutes.

* My favorite scene in Quick Change

So many great scenes in Quick Change.  So many funny great scenes.  But for my money, nothing beats a young Tony Shalhoub as the cab driver.  To this day you can't say "bluftoni honk honk" around me and not make me laugh.

Quick Change at the IMDB

Quick Change at Wikipedia

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