Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice, in a longish (and at points very interesting) post making a number of different comparisons, has this to say about Ross Douthat:
But Ross Douthat is nowhere so obvious. He is, after all, a Harvard man, as he will not hesitate to remind you. Not for our Ross the cheap laffs of mere physical comedy. He has a subtler and longer-lived role model: Bill Murray, the Maynard G. Krebs of the mid-1970s. Murray has made a profitable career out of being The Guy Who’s A Little Too Hip for the Room.
I don’t know about the application of this idea to Ross (whom I generally enjoy reading).
My point,rather, is to ask whether this is even correct about Bill Murray.
The “Little Too Hip for the Room” Bill Murray would be true of Steve Zissou and Murray’s role in “Rushmore.” Scrooged, too, I suppose–although his character isn’t really too hip for the room so much as too much a self-obsessed money grubbin’ a-hole for the room (he was, after all, playing Scrooge).
Groundhog Day Bill Murray for sure, at least at the beginning. Although by the end he’s transformed through his feelings for Rita (Andie MacDowell), saved from hell by becoming a regular, caring guy.
Maybe Broken Flowers Bill Murray. But in that flick, he’s more zoned out than hip. He’s basically lost.
Lost in Translation Bill Murray? Yeah, he mocks various drunks in bars and whacked-out people in the Japanese media industry. But most of it is good-natured humor based on the ludicrousness of these interactions (the Santori Times commercial comes to mind). But overall, Murray’s character shows a great deal of tenderness and affection–he puts on the young guy T-shirt and goes clubbing with the Japanese youths, for example. He cares for his children and even is trying to make amends with his wife, even as he falls for a younger woman.
But still, aren’t we forgetting this iconic Bill Murray who, if nothing else, is the apotheosis of the opposite of too hip for the room?*
Or Bill Murray as lovable doofus Todd DiLaBounta hitting on the brilliant Gilda Radner-played nerdy Lisa Loopner? Another charater who’s not exactly too hip for the room.
In a little-remembered but in my book minor classic, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Murray plays a bumbling individual turned detective in the tradition of Peter Sellers. If he’s too hip, it’s only because the joke is on him and we the audience are in on how out of it his character really is (though again, he’s still lovable).
Even if Anne means Murray made a second career of being the too hip in the room guy, I don’t think this flies in Lost in Translation.
In other words, Anne’s assessment is a rather one-sided view of the comedic (and dramatic) oeuvre of one Mr. William James Murray.
* The obvious “too hip for the room” guy in that film is Chevy Chase.
Update I: If blogger-pundits are comics, I want to be the Demetri Martin (Warning: Language) of this joint.