SXSW 2018: The Bill Murray Stories

Bill Murray and Tommy Avallone in The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man. Credit: Photo by Chris Raab

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man offers a glimpse into the many stranger-than-life stories about comedian Bill Murray.

This is a film that took director Tommy Avallone across the country and even to the United Kingdom in order to collect all these crazy-but-true Bill Murray stories.  He heard his first Bill Murray story over a decade ago–it was the one about Murray covering someone’s eyes and telling them that their friends won’t believe them.  If it weren’t for the video or photographic proof, nobody would have ever believed this stories because they are straight out unbelievable.  If I hadn’t been watching it play out on film with the cell phone or YouTube footage, I would not have believed it.

What is true, however, is that Murray will do the craziest of things for ordinary people.  He’ll pose in someone’s engagement photo.  He’ll head over to a construction site to read poetry to the employees–this is one that I’m still finding it hard to understand.  Like why would somebody want to do something that crazy?!?  He’ll clean your dishes in the kitchen and a host of other things.

Then there’s the time at SXSW a few years ago in which Murray headed over to a bar and hung out with Trevor Rathbone.  The former SNL star must have connected on a level because Murray came back and asked for Trevor.  Trevor must have impressed him in order to call him in to the bar.

Murray got his start in the Chicago improv scene at Second City.  There’s a few Chicago folks that appear on camera to discuss Murray–Charna Halpern, Susan Messing, Mike Thomas, and of course, Murray’s own brother, Joel Murray.  They are able to offer insight on the comedian as well as improv in general.  Messing is an improv pro and it’s always great to see her offer insight on the art.  If one has the chance to get to Chicago on Thursday nights, head to The Annoyance for Susan’s show because a fun time will be had for all!

What is known is that Murray has a special phone line for people to call in regarding potential acting parts.  There’s a nice montage of Tommy calling the phone number.  Granted, the filmmaker had to get a hold of the number through someone else!  Tommy manages to call Murray’s phone so much that his mother has to intervene and leave a message.

It would not be any type of a Bill Murray documentary without a montage of film clips while discussing a brief background of the actor-comedian.  Many of these films have their own message that may explain what drew Murray to play those characters in the first place.

Bill Murray doesn’t have to do any of these things but he does and that’s what makes The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man a solid documentary.

DIRECTOR:  Tommy Avallone
SCREENWRITERS:  Tommy Avallone and Max Paolucci
FEATURING:  Tommy Avallone, Joel Murray, Peter Farrelly, Jordan Goetz, Adam Morgan, Trevor Rathbone, Tyler Van Aiken

An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man premiered as a part of the Documentary Spotlight program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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