Sep 26 2012
A couple months ago, Remy wrote a piece listing five incredibly bleak films that was—per usual for our Mr. Carreiro—incredibly popular and generated a healthy comments section. One of the commenters, Mutant Turd (sir or madam, my hat is off to you re: the internet handle), suggested Remy check out a little-known 80′s Bill Murray movie called The Razor’s Edge. Mr./Ms. Turd also shared a particularly cool bit of trivia: “Rumor has it that Bill Murray actually told the studio that the only way he would star in Ghostbusters would be if they made this movie and he starred in it.” That certainly got my attention, and I made a mental note to move the flick to the top of my Netflix queue.
Full disclosure time: Remy and I are best friends in real life. We’ve already vowed never to pick the other one last for any organized teams, became blood siblings, and always help each other reach safety when the floor is lava. In addition to that, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is based partially on our lives.
Pictured from L to R: Sara, Remy
So Remy had the idea that we both watch the movie and do a collaborative review for Unreality. So here we are, with the first of hopefully many instances where we play Siskel and Ebert. Or Ebert and Roeper, for you kids out there.
SARA: First off, I want to express a bit of disappointment that our first “He Said/She Said” outing is not a film that’s more effed up. This is definitely one of those lazy-sunday-when-you’re-forty kind of movies. Not that I don’t love me some Bill Murray, believe me. Also, based on my notes, we might want to make this “Remy and Sara Delightfully Over Analyze and Spoil a Movie” instead. In other words dear readers: spoiler alert. In any case Rembot, lay it on us and don’t pull any punches. What were your initial impressions of The Razor’s Edge?
REMY: I kind of wanted to love this movie, I really did. Especially considering it was recommended to us by an Unreality reader. And I think for the first half hour, I did. Not for any other reason than it was not at all what I had expected, but as it went on, I knew I was wanting more from it, and it never went there. I mean, it TRIED to, physically (I needed a passport just to see the film).
SARA: Man, tell me about it. And time really jumps ahead in this movie. Like, whoa. I think Doctor Who directed.
REMY: After seeing this, which was Murray’s first real foray into SERIOUS acting, would you expect him to have been as successful in his later career as he has been? I thought he showed some real powerful introspection in a few scenes, the lighter scene in the bunker being one, BUT, as far as gems like Lost in Translation, no, this barely hinted at that for me. Murray is effortlessly cool, but here, it felt like he was trying too hard. Did you see any hints of “genius Murray” here?
SARA: Not really, no. Okay, I know this is a vanity project, what with Bill saying he wouldn’t do Ghostbusters unless the studio financed this movie, but man—this seems like a TOTAL vanity project. I can tell Bill Murray is really connected to the material, but he’s so connected on a personal level that he can’t quite muster an energized performance. It’s like he’s scared of his own emotion. This happens often enough in life, so I totally understand his headspace, but it doesn’t really make for a dynamic viewing experience.
Like you, I did see some glimpses of future Bill. Like when Larry (Murray) gave the eulogy for Piedmont (Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill’s older bro!)—which makes total sense since it was based on Murray’s real-life eulogy for John Belushi—and the scene where he and Sophie (Theresa Russell) are painting. There’s no dialogue to over-intellectualize there, and the two actors had a genuine, improvised moment of connection and laughter. I think he has mastered bringing that touch of lightness to all of his later roles, realizing the best sad clowns still know how to laugh.
REMY: What did you think of the relationship (acting wise, chemistry) between Larry and Sophie? I actually found it one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film and I found their chemistry palpable. Thing is, I truly believe the lack of sex scene messed it up. Not to sound like a perv, but it felt like they held back on that with the hopes of finding mass appeal or “Oscar Buzz” for this film. But it makes sense, as cool as he was. Bill Murray (especially back then) was by NO means a sex symbol, and that may have affected the characters interactions, but I can’t be sure. I felt there was hinted sexuality, but to me, it felt like this movie secretly wished it was made with a more physically appealing leading man (if Brad Pitt was in a remake of this movie RIGHT NOW, it would make ten zillion dollars, which I think just counts towards the suckiness of our shallow world).
SARA: I thought they had excellent chemistry too, though I didn’t necessarily feel it was sexual. Though I totally agree: lack of sex scenes in this movie = bullsh*t. I think he had more sexual chemistry with his first love interest, Isabel (Catherine Hicks), though none intellectually. And I think all those chemical interactions were right, character-wise.
Larry and Sophie had a way more mature relationship than he and Isabel. He and Isabel absolutely loved each other, and maybe could have grown together, but they were just kids during most of the time they were together. Larry came back from war a changed man, and started his journey of self-discovery. Sophie went through some pretty heavy sh*t of her own, including the loss of her own young relationship. I think they found each other at similar points in their lives, helped keep each other on an even keel (Larry doing that more for Sophie, obviously), and reached a nice equilibrium.
Also, Theresa Russell was kind of amazeballs as Sophie. She f*cking killed it in that hospital scene after she and her family get in the car crash. It’s a proven phenomena when a slightly weaker actor works with a stronger one, the stronger can pull the weaker up closer to their level. That was definitely happening here between Russell and Murray, especially since they had so many scenes in the latter half of the film where the focus was just on the two of them.
REMY: We were suggested to watch this after my BLEAKEST films list. Do you think it would have a place on that list? Me? No. I think it was pretty bleak, though. I loved the “eulogies” and it def hinted the Bill wanted to be taken more seriously than he was as a result of SNL, but I think the movie TRIED to be bleak and nihilistic. Sophie dies, and we are supposed to be broken from it (though his speech to Isabel about it was awesome) but it didn’t shatter me like it should have, and that is why it didn’t work for me. Plus, the scope of the film was a little much. I kept waiting for a section of the film to be Larry looking for himself on the moon.
SARA: Ha ha, agreed. I don’t think it would have a place your bleakest films list, no. I have a feeling I would be broken if I read the book, but this film adaptation didn’t do it for me. Part of the problem is the acting—I thought it was pretty thoroughly mediocre—and another part is the writing. Larry seems to have all these incredibly profound experiences, but the script doesn’t let us in at all. We don’t really get an inkling of what they actually are. A monk says some wise words? When you sit in a tiny lean-to in a snowstorm the world suddenly makes sense? What? And finally, yes, the scope: I think it’s fine for Larry to travel as far and wide as he did to find himself, but it’s going to take longer than 128 minutes.
REMY: Like you said about his HUGE moments of realization, yes, more emphasis on those and less on Kooky random moments. Having to burn the book to stay warm, for example. Symbolically, that could have been an AMAZING moment, and it just wasn’t handled with the brevity that it should have, so add ONE character from fiction to the film to make it more interesting. I would add The Nothing from The Neverending Story, because at least then his constant torment and anxiety would have a source. You?
SARA: Lionel Logue, Geoffrey Rush’s character from The King’s Speech. Ironically, Larry needed someone with an actual sense of humor to give him a little guidance, and also to tell him to lighten the f*ck up a little. I would also accept Geoffrey Rush playing Uncle Elliot, and performing that function from within the story. Though let me give a quick shout out to Denholm Elliott, aka Marcus Brody from Indiana Jones, who actually does play Uncle Elliot. Way to be the one British guy who lends the production some credibility. Congratulations on being the Obi Wan Kenobi of The Razor’s Edge!
REMY: Flashback, recast Sophie and Larry, who do you choose and does the movie succeed? I would have cast Patrick Swayze and Leah Thompson. Would it have been successful, maybe not, but by GOD it would have been sexy.
SARA: In the 80′s: William Hurt (Body Heat) and Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull), both for sexiness and gravitas. Now: Joseph Gordon Levitt and Jennifer Lawrence. And before anyone rips me apart and tries in vain to convince me that Jennifer Lawrence isn’t attractive, let it be known I could also live with Michelle Williams. Sophie is an insanely difficult part (in all honesty I wouldn’t even recast her in the 80′s version), and demands an actress with chops. Lawrence is mucho talented. And also you are wrong, imaginary naysayers, Jennifer’s a babe. Who would you choose from today’s crop of talent?
REMY: It’s funny you ask me that about recasting, because oddly, the more I have distanced myself from this film, the more I think of it favorably. The oddest thing, and something I never thought I would ever hear myself say about anything: Murray was a miscast.I can see WHY Murray wanted to take this role, but he wasn’t ready. I would be super curious to see how well he could pull it off now. I know the story itself doesn’t mesh when being told about fifty-year-olds, BUT, I feel like he has shown the growth and depth that he would awe people with that same role now, but that’s just heresy, I guess.
SO I may catch some heat for this, but for me, Adrian Brody would kill it. With Brody, you keep that “cool but not attractive” vibe, and I feel like Brody could at least show the proper inflection with it, because most of the characters he plays are wounded to some degree. I like the idea of JGL and Jennifer Lawrence, too, but that movie would give me such a boner I would be asked to leave the theater. To me, that is almost TOO sexy, and has potential to pull from this story. The one thing I seemed to think as I watched this movie was: The lack of good looking people in this movie must be on purpose. I know that seems insane (I won’t argue that) but I felt like that was intentional. Like they took the emphasis off “Hollywood looks” to put the emphasis on story. But I am probably way off.
As for a current female, I would cast Shannyn Sossaman ( odd, I know) because I think she is stunning. but really, I think she does the ” I am thinking too much” thing wonderfully, and that seemed to be the disease all these people had in this film. If I was recasting it in the eighties I would cast Clint Howard and Divine because, well, it always felt like it had the potential to go down David Lynch territory, and it never did. Maybe with those two weirdos it would have felt like a bad Troma film, and that might have made me like it more.
You said Swayze and Thompson, and my heart stopped. Literally, it was such a good idea that I died.
SARA: Um, actually YOU said Swayze and Thompson.
REMY: Holy sh*t, I did? I guess the best thing about having multiple personalities is that they are all willing to toss in ideas. Think I may need to go lay down.
So while Remy goes down for his nap, I’d like to take this opportunity to open the floor to suggestions for our next collaboration. Is there some other obscure decades-old movie you’d like to see us pick apart? Is there some crazy ass modern film you want us to review? Do you have another idea for a collaboration between me and Remy? Have you even read this far? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?
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