“If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.”
There’s a reason Paddington 2 has been a monster success, and it’s the same reason why The Bill Murray Stories will resonate stronger than it might have in years past.
We’ve all heard one or two of the man’s urban legends, those that more than thinking could be true we’d hoped would be. This author’s favourite, and the first I’d heard, was the one about the Ghostbusters star rocking up and doing the dishes at some random house party, so the hosts could get on with having fun.
Tommy Avallone’s new documentary, screening at the Sydney Underground Film Festival, asks if these stories are true, and, more importantly, why would anyone shout boxes of pizza to a bunch of camp counsellors they’d never met?
If your heart is warmed by the Paddington films phenomenal and deserved success, you’ve probably heard of something called nicecore. Decades ago, primarily in the post-Second World War era, musicals, jubilance and all that made you beam just that little bit more really caught on, even if those flicks didn’t quite have the gritty realism or dramatic oomph of a thriller.
For years, many of these flicks, save the more swinging successes ala Singin’ In The Rain,’ have been widely relegated as quaint, or trite. Not any more.
Audiences in droves are now craving films that are uplifting; and that does not and has never meant sacrificing the dramatic integrity of a flick that might generally garner a Best Picture nomination. Australia is no stranger to this, with The Merger, an enjoyable if heavily uneven film, pursuing the formula that the Paddington creators got just right.
The Bill Murray Stories, which is thankfully not fiction, is by this author’s reckoning the first documentary to cover this trend, centred on of all things that wonderful comedian who has befuddled and delighted fans for decades. Avallone, clearly enamoured with his childhood icon, follows those chance encounters all over America and indeed the world, tracking down the wedding photographer whose picture Bill Murray affectionately “memory-bombed,” or the hosts of that party where the cops didn’t quite have the nerve to tell Bill to quit jamming.
It’s an affecting recounting that for any Bill Murray fan or anyone for whom the words ‘pay it forward’ mean that much more than the sum of their parts, as Peter Venkman, in the words of one of his acolytes, gives us an example of “how to live.”
It’s a peculiar but by no means unsurprising addition to this year’s Underground Film Fest, known for programming that as far out of left field or irregular as more often that not gruesome or downright shocking. In the years to come films like the Bill Murray Stories may very well proliferate or cease to seem as relevant, but for now it’s a gem and one worth catching – and make sure to stay past the credits!
The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learnt from a Mythical Man is screening at The Sydney Underground Film Festival
Coverage on Film Fight Club