Quick Change

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“The bank robbery was easy, getting out of New York was a nightmare”, so says the tag line for Bill Murray and Howard Franklin’s Quick Change (1990). Franklin and Murray’s film take the escape from the scene of a crime and open it up into an odyssey through the Big Apple in which every episode speaks to the urban experience. There’s something very Chaplinesque about Quick Change in how it balances the cynicism of its social and political commentaries with a genuine warmth and love for New York.

Bill Murray, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid are our hapless bank robbers and Jason Robards is the cop out to book them. Within this dynamic each player essential works with their strengths: Murray is sardonic, sarcastic and macho; Geena Davis is sassy, sincere, and quietly vulnerable; Randy Quaid is the lovable hayseed. Robards’ turn as the “cop that wouldn’t stop” casts him nominally as the straight man, though his choices have a physical humor to them that subtly undermines his own authority beautifully. All of the leads are impeccable and the direction and editing highlight the genius of the comedic timing so that the energy never wanes, it only escalates. There are also some nice turns in bit parts by Phil Hartman, Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci and Victor Argo that give even minor characters a real sense of life. Hartman in particular is very funny as the sell out Boomer who claims to have been at Woodstock.

Really Quick Change is about lampooning the New York of the eighties, making it one of the quintessential comedies of the nineties. Franklin and Murray would work together again on Larger Than Life (1996) and The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997), though only the latter comes close to equaling Quick Change for laughs and social relevance. I would say that the bare bones BluRay from Warner Archives is essential to any Bill Murray fans or fans of comedy in general.