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‘The Bill Murray Experience’ (review)

Produced By Sadie Katz, Jim Griffiths,
Jim Towns & Dallas King
Directed By Sadie Katz
Starring Sadie Katz, Joel Murray,
P.J. Soles, Bill Murray

 

A few years back a friend dragged me to the theater to see the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, about an all-but-forgotten 80s hair metal band attempting to make a “comeback”. I had little interest in seeing the film, but I ended up enjoying it…far more than my friend, it turns out.

With the end credits rolling, I turned to my friend to tell him I dug the film. Before I could do so, he uttered bitterly, “That had no business playing in a movie theater.”

While it was certainly a niche doc a few years before niche docs would become commonplace, Anvil! felt right at home in the theater to me.

Which leads me to Sadie Katz’s The Bill Murray Experience. This “niche” doc feels like nothing so much as glorified (but equally dull) home movies, and frankly, has no business playing on my laptop.

Katz is an incredibly neurotic, annoying, borderline-certifiable actress/writer who, upon her engagement breaking up (not to be too cruel, but go figure), has a bit of a meltdown but finds solace in internet posts and videos of various so-called “Bill Murray Experiences”.

These entail Murray genially crashing weddings and offering marriage advice, popping up at ice cream trucks to share some yummy delights with the hoi polloi, etc. So, she embarks on a quest to stage her own “Bill Murray Experience”.

Okay. Right away, unappealing premise. You can’t FORCE something like this (fair enough that Sadie finally – FINALLY!!!! – realizes this by film’s end, but way too little too late).

Also, um….stalker…?

This whole creepy affair has a running time of 81 minutes but it feels longer than Berlin Alexanderplatz, for God’s sake. Endless confessional shots of Katz whining and vamping for the camera are flat-out intolerable from the start.

This is a vanity project from an unknown! Who on Earth would want to watch this?

The only saving graces are appearances by Bill’s brother, Joel, and his Stripes co-star, P.J. Soles. Joel comes across as a well-adjusted guy used to being one step removed from the spotlight, while Soles is charming as ever discussing the “Aunt Jemima Treatment” scene from Stripes and drops a shocker by disclosing that studio execs wanted her and Murray to reteam for Splash. God knows that seminal 80s comedy/fantasy/romance works like gangbusters with Hanks and Hannah, but the mind reels at the thought of what the Stripes duo would have brought to that story.

So, five or so minutes of entertainment, and an hour and change of torture. Your call.

 

The Bill Murray Experience is available On Demand on December 19th.

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