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
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?