Aug 19 2010

Unreal Man Crush: The Six Best Bill Murray Movie Roles

Published by at 11:00 am under Lists,Movies

Bill Murray is not a handsome man, but that doesn’t stop me from having a huge man crush on the guy.  Personally, I think Murray is the greatest comedic actor of all time, and I don’t know that anyone really comes close.  Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, and Jerry Lewis are/were all terrific, but Bill Murray is in a class all by himself.  It wasn’t easy picking Murray’s six greatest roles since he’s hysterical in just about everything – he’s even funny in Space Jam - but I did my best to narrow it down.  Below, in no particular order, take a look at the six greatest Bill Murray movie roles.

Peter Venkman – Ghostbusters

I’m pretty sure that Bill Murry does not have one line in the entirety of Ghostbusters that he says seriously.  Seriously, every single line uttered by Peter Venkman in the movie is either a joke or some kind of sarcastic remark.  It’s truly amazing, and Bill Murray is the main reason this movie has aged so well over the years.  I think that’s worth noting, actually – all of Bill Murray’s comedies age well and are totally rewatchable.  How many comedic actors can say the same about their movies?

Anyway, the best Venkman line?  “Yes, it’s true.  This man has no dick.”

Carl Spackler – Caddyshack

Carl Spackler is such an incredible character that he’s got his very own website.  When I was a kid, I always thought it was funny how determined Spackler was to destroy that stupid gopher.  It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized the genius that is Carl Spackler:

“So we finish the 18th and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

Phil Connors – Groundhog Day

Do you know how few PG comedies are actually funny?  Me neither, but it’s not a lot at all.  Only a great comedic actor could take such a simple premise (being forced to live the same day over and over) without any dirty jokes and make it absolutely hysterical.  There’s even a cheesy romance thrown into Groundhog Day and that’s still not enough to get me to flip the channel when it’s on.

Ernie McCracken – Kingpin

Murray is known mostly for being incredibly dry, but Ernie McCracken is completely over-the-top.  Murray’s also at his best when he’s being a dick, so it’s not like the character was a gigantic stretch for him.  The insane, out-of-control hair and the custom-made bowling balls help add to the ridiculousness that is Ernie, but only Bill Murray could have made this character a complete scene-stealer in a criminally underrated comedy.

John Winger – Stripes

This is probably my favorite Bill Murray role on this list.  Aside from Animal House, I think Stripes may be the funniest movie ever made.  Now, the movie probably should have ended right after Winger, Ox, Psycho, Ziskey, and the rest of the crew graduate, but that’s something for a different post.  Anyway, Winger rips on just about everyone throughout Stripes, and one of the best scenes is when the soldiers are all getting to know each other.

“My hobbies are fast cars and fast women.  That’s why the guys in my car club call me ‘The Cruiser.’”

“They should have called him ‘The Dork.’”

Just brilliant stuff.

Arthur Denton – Little Shop of Horrors

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t8xp3ojpdk

Yes, it’s just a cameo, but it’s also the funniest scene in the entire movie.  Anytime you pair up Bill Murray with Steve Martin, you know it’s going to be side-splittingly funny.  Just check out the above clip.

Honorable Mentions: Frank Cross in Scrooged, Bob Wiley in What About Bob?, Herman Blume in Rushmore

Agree with my picks?  What is your favorite Bill Murray movie role?





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31 responses so far

  • J5

    His small part in Zomibeland was almost a movie stealing cameo. What about Bob absolutely kills me everytime I see it. His comedy mixed with OCD is just about the most perfect concoction of hilarious.

    And I’m probably alone in this, but I love “The Man Who Knew To Little.”

    “You were tortured? That’s great!”

    • Madison

      He’s great in The Man Who Knew Too Little. He’s great in everything.

      “May I see your ID?”

      “No you may NOT!”

  • josh

    Where is Bob from What about Bob? I think thats better than his kingpin role, just my thoughts.

    • Madison

      I made it an honorable mention…

  • Sam

    His cameo in zombieland is amazing. As for pg comedies I would say airplane is definitely the best.

  • Icecream

    So true about stealing zombieland, my favourite cameo in a long time . . .

  • Cheryl

    Scrooged is my Christmas tradition, I love the sign on his office wall ‘Cross – something you hang a person on’ (or something like that)

    • Madison

      Yule Love It!

  • http://www.the-back-row.com Gill

    I agree with J5 – his bit in Zombieland was awesome. I also like him in most Wes Anderson movies. I also like how he’s become such a Wes Anderson regular that he had a fake-out role at the beginning of The Darjeeling Limited.

    • Madison

      Yeah, his cameo was boss. I actually listed it in an article I did a ways back on great, unexpected cameos in movies. Even in death, he was hilarious.

  • Mitch

    The Arthur Denton character from the original Little Shop of Horrors was played by Jack Nicholson. Just another reason to love that clip.

    • Madison

      Oh, that’s very cool. I am still dying to see the original – gonna have to Netflix it at some point.

  • Laura

    Stripes. Its like a vacation! Free food, free clothes…

  • Guy Incognito

    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is my favourite movie and also my favourite Bill Murray role. There’s just so much subtle, dry comedy thrown in there. When it came out I must have watched it 5 times and each time I would catch something I missed the first time through.

  • IcemanD

    Stripes is one of my favourite Bill Murray movies for pure comedy.

    But, my all around favourite Bill Murray role is Hunter S. Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam. He nails Thompson’s mannerisms in that movie and is very funny as well.

  • J5

    @ Guy

    Good god man, I almost forgot about The Life Aquatic and I own that movie.

    “Son of a bitch, I’m sick of these dolphins.”

  • Velovan

    I’ll agree with J5 and the others about his cameo in Zombieland. It was really effing brilliant. For me, Peter Venkman will always be his finest role.

  • Bert

    I agree with J5 and Guy – I absolutely love The Life Aquatic. The scenes between him and Willem Dafoe are priceless. I’d say it rates an honourable mention as well (because the six you picked are pretty unquestionable).

    “I’m going to find it, and I’m going to destroy it. I don’t know how, maybe dynamite.”

    • Madison

      I think you’re right, Bert. It’s at least an honorable mention.

      “Revenge.”

  • Mutant Turd

    I agree with all of your choices. But, if you want to see a different side of Bill Murray, rent or Netflix the movie “The Razor’s Edge”. This is the movie Bill Murray blackmailed the studio to make for him by threatening to not be in Ghostbusters if they didn’t back it.

    It’s a period piece drama set during and after WW1. Fantastic movie with a great dramatic turn by Mr. Murray. One of my favorites. Now, don’t go into it thinking you’ll laugh your ass off because you won’t. In fact it will probably depress the hell out of you. Still a great movie.

    • Madison

      Thanks, I will add it to the Netflix queue!

  • Dorito

    Tripper in Meatballs. This was my introduction to Bill Murray and hearing him burp the line “Oh, really? Really?” Pretty much set the tone for my sense of humor.

  • gulleycurse

    King Pin is criminally underrated…..I agree with all the picks on this one, wouldn’t change a thing!!!!

  • Adam

    Agreed Guy Incognito,

    Steve Z., a great role which isn’t purely comedy.
    Another one in the same line in Don in Jarmusch’s ‘Broken Flowers’.

  • Don Megalo

    Also loved him in Lost in Translation.

    Funniest man in the world.

  • kirk

    QUICK CHANGE! Nobody said Quick Change…Its hilarious..Bill And randy Quaid are so funny together..

  • Jonathan

    Great list, but your quote from Stripes doesn’t have an ounce of Murray in it. That was John Candy that called Cruiser a dork.

  • Madison

    @ Jonathan

    Oh god, you’re right.

    OK then…have you ever had the Aunt Jemima treatment?

  • Bob

    What about Bob in What About Bob??

    ^^you see what I did there? I did that because I’m fuckin clever.. and humble.

  • K.L.Heyward

    I think Lost Lost in Translation is by far his best movie followed by The Life AQUATIC #3 Ground hog day . Richard Pryor , Eddie Murphy and Bob Hope I find funnier !!! Jim Carry to me in movies is not funny . But Bill Murry is a Great leading man with tremendous comic relief in the movies I mention , just another opinion . LOL peace!

  • Nadia

    Bill Murray IS handsome! He’s STUNNING! I’ve the Twenty-first Century Crush on him!!!
    DOCTOR MURRAY! DOCTOR BILL MURRAY! GIMME GIMME GIMME I NEED I NEED I NEEEEEEEED!!!!!!!!

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