Bob (Bill Murray), a needy neurotic and narcissist, is thrown for a loop when his therapist (Richard Dreyfuss) goes on vacation. Unable and unwilling to take no for an answer, Bob tracks Dr. Leo to his lakeside cottage and imposes himself the family.
Sean and I are off to the cottage this weekend and we intend to have a lot more relaxation and a lot less surprise guests. Of course, if a client of mine did show up unexpectedly, it wouldn’t go quite like it does in the movie. Bob is not charismatic, he’s obnoxious and self-centered. And sure Dr. Leo’s a dick, but Bob could be dangerous and has already proven himself to be a liar and a stalker. Not only is it inappropriate for Bob to show up, it’s also strictly against the rules. I would be calling the cops. Sean would not be bonding with him under any circumstance. This movie really riles me up in between bouts of cracking me up.
While I find this movie professionally disturbing, I also find it hilarious, because: Bill Murray. I love Bill Murray. He’s kind of an ass, and impenetrable, and yet somehow I adore him. He has weird methods on-set, rewriting lines and improv-ing, which tends to get the goats of a lot of his co-stars (Richard Dreyfuss famously included, plus Chevy Case, Richard Donner, Lucy Liu, and McG, who claims Murray head-butted him; Dan Aykroyd would nickname him The Murricane for such behaviour). He took a circuitous path to comedy, attending college for pre-med but then dropping out after being arrested for marijuana possession. He then ended up doing National Lampoon Radio Hour with Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi, and eventually met back up with them on SNL as well. He was a bankable comedy star throughout the 80s and 90s, and then reinvented his career more recently as a dramatic actor, taking on roles where he’s often cynical or depressed (or both!) rather than the flat-out nuts of What About Bob.
Bill Murray is a Hollywood Luddite – he has no agent, and no business manager. Pete Docter wanted him for the voice of Sulley in Monsters, Inc. but had no way of contacting him and had to move on. Murray went on to voice Garfield instead because he was anxious to work with the Coen brothers. Sound fishy? You’re right. The script is co-written by a Joel Cohen, but not that Joel Coen. A business manager may have sussed that out. He’s also missed out on roles in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Squid and the Whale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Little Miss Sunshine – the latter being the only one he regrets.
Bill Murray is an icon with legendary status among his many fans. An entire website is dedicated to telling the best Bill Murray stories. He’s elusive but if you catch him on the right day, he can be surprisingly engaging. He has inspired all kinds of tributes, from the Bill Murray colouring book my sister sent me for Christmas, to Cook Your Own Food – A Bill Murray Scratch And Sniff , which depicts the sights and smells of various Murray movies.
So while I’d freak out of Bob showed up at the cottage, Bill I’d welcome with a glass of scotch and open arms. Wouldn’t you?