Listen, I LOVE Bill Murray. I know I’m not going out on a limb here, proclaiming my affection for one of the most beloved American comedy actors of all time, but something about that statement’s sheer undeniability seems like the right place to start.
Luckily for me, in August, The Roxy Theater will present Murray’s early films in a Wednesday night series called “Murray Me” offering some of the audience a can to experience the brilliance of these comedies for the first time (what a treat!), while others will be reliving the glory and nostalgia of these classics.
My admiration for Murray began when I was 10, in the early days of Saturday Night Live. I begged my father every week to let me stay up to watch the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.”
Next to Gilda Radner, Murray was always my favorite cast member, and when the two played together - in those glorious skits like “The Nerds” (Todd DiLaMuca and Lisa Loopner... “Here’s those special Prom Noogies that you ordered!”) - I was in heaven.
There was something in Murray’s Midwestern every-man-ness that delighted me.
When he channeled the lounge lizard stupidity of Nick Winters (“Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars!”) I had no idea there was a world of such dreadful performers, and yet it rang true.
The fact is, for me, everything Murray did was brilliant.
And later when he found his way to the big screen in arguably the most successful transition that any SNL cast member has managed, I was delighted with his slovenly everyman roles in “Meatballs,” “Stripes,” “Caddyshack,” et al. - a canon that became required viewing during my misspent youth. These were films that my friends and I watched and watched and watched on worn out VHS each weekend, quoting them infinitely:
“It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter…”
“That’s the fact, Jack”
“So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice”
We were always on the lookout for an opportunity to assert our Murray-ness into any conversation whether appropriate or not. We developed our own swaggers and approximated deliveries of his dialogue.
Some managed near perfect marble-mouth renderings of Carl Spackler - his degenerate groundskeeper from “Caddyshack,” while others were more focused on Tripper (“Meatballs”) and his sardonic quips. He became, in some sense, our version of a matinee idol, only his movies were late-night fare.
And why not aspire to be Bill Murray? He was, after all, the funniest person we knew, except that, of course, we didn’t actually know him.
Murray’s career has endured nicely during the past 35 years, experiencing a boost from his involvement with Wes Anderson and other indie filmmakers like Sofia Coppola and Jim Jarmusch.
In many ways his pathos and wit has been recast as the ultimate aging hipster, a current persona that he plays as well as he did the scruffy early parts.
So, whether it is the first or 400th time seeing one of Murray’s movies, the delight of watching Murray muse sarcastic is sure to please, and yes, this is a fact, Jack.
“Murray Me” screenings include “Meatballs” on Aug. 5. “Caddyshack” will play on Aug. 12; “Stripes” on Aug. 19 and “Ghostbusters” on Aug. 26.
All screenings start at 8 p.m. at the Roxy. A food truck pod will be gathered across the street in the Senior Center parking lot from 6-8 p.m.