There is no denying that Bill Murray is one of the finest comedic minds of our lifetime, but even those we would consider comic geniuses cannot hit a home run every time they are up to the plate. At least, not when it comes to the public perception. The talent who had struck it big at the box office with hits such as Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day did not prove to be bulletproof when he took his lone attempt at co-directing the 1990 comedy Quick Change with director and screenwriter Howard Franklin. For one reason or another, audiences rejected this one pretty outright which led to it being proclaimed a box office bomb. At least Murray could take comfort that the critical reception was much more positive with many proclaiming it to be a hidden gem. Over the years, more people have had a chance to discover this cult classic on cable, but what fans have been anxiously awaiting is for it to finally be treated with the respect it deserves on Blu-Ray. Warner Archive has finally stepped up to the plate to deliver something that is sure to satisfy longtime fans.
Murray plays a character known only as Grimm, a clever bank robber first seen decked out in a clown suit on the way to knock over a location in midtown Manhattan. Much of the fun of this film comes not from whether or not he is going to make it out of the bank, but what happens to him and his accomplices once his plan goes off without a hitch – until it doesn’t. Grimm does not immediately present as a heist genius, but as the film moves along you come to admire how prepared he was for everything that comes his way inside the bank. It is not much of a spoiler to reveal that two of his hostages during the robbery are part of his crew; the hysterical Loomis (Randy Quaid, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) is not that much more put together than he is pretending to be, and his girlfriend Phyllis (Geena Davis, A League Of Their Own) is ready for the plan to be done with so she can share some good news. The only thing standing between them and a perfectly executed plan is Chief Walt Rotzinger (Jason Robards, Magnolia), an officer who is quick to smell whatever is fishy. The trio make it out of the bank, but can they make it out of the city?
It is difficult to say why this feature did not connect with audiences at the box office upon its initial release, but I would hazard to guess that many were not prepared for the anxiety and cringeworthy developments this film would produce that would become more commonplace in the new millennium. As much as you might love Cousin Eddy, anyone who watches this will be sure to be yelling at the screen at Quaid’s Loomis. Time after time, the lovable dope screws up their perfectly crafted plan by one mistake or another. From an ill-timed horn honking to a wild barrel roll from a moving car, you will be sweating bullets wanting this trio to make it to freedom. The film has some very funny set pieces and drop-ins from famous faces, such as Phil Hartman as a concerned apartment owner, Tony Shalhoub as a cab driver who is not the most fluent in English and Stanley Tucci as a mob goon. The movie keeps a very good pace and each sequence delivers big laughs before quickly advancing to the next development.
Quick Change is a film that utilizes its cast really well. Before we get to the brilliance of Murray, we would be remiss if we did not give loads of praise to the one and only Geena Davis. Despite being a willing participant in this crime, you never feel anything but sympathy for this character which makes you cheer when they stay one step ahead of Jason Robards. Speaking of, Robards uses his dramatic persona to bring a gravitas to this weary policeman who is caught up in this insanity. The seriousness he brings to the role only makes the funny moments that much more funny. As both star and co-director, Murray is pretty wonderful. While this works well as a heist tale, there is a bit more depth to the execution in the way it portrays the intersection of trashy, old New York City with a rapidly gentrifying city. The film does not hit you over the head with this, but there is a nice layer of social commentary that gives the film even more impact. While not the pinnacle of Murray’s filmography, Quick Change is nonetheless a really funny, underrated gem that deserves to be considered in higher esteem in this legend’s career.
Quick Change gets a stellar upgrade on Blu-Ray courtesy of Warner Archive with a new 2021 1080p master. The transfer provides natural film grain absent of any compression artifacts or other such digital anomalies. This disc also wonderfully represents the various settings from the inciting incident in the bank all the way to the airport where the climax takes place. There are elements in the production design that are easily visible for the first time ever on home entertainment. There are some nice, vibrant colors that make the film pop visually in an exciting way, especially in the iconic clown suit. Skin tones look natural, and the presentation offers up deep black levels. Warner Archive has provided a lovely transfer for a film that has long gone unappreciated since its initial release.
Warner Archive brings this new Blu-Ray to consumers with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mix that is just as worthy of praise as the video presentation. The dialogue comes through perfectly clearly even in the hustle and bustle of New York City. There are some notable environmental effects that give the track a bit of a kick, such as some gunshots during the bank robbery. One key part of the movie is the music within, as everything from the Randy Edelman score to songs from Nat King Cole comes through with a dynamic intensity. There are no defects to the track such as hissing or audio dropouts. This is a well-balanced track that gets the job done in a most pleasing manner. Optional English (SDH) subtitles are provided on this disc.
- Trailer: The two-minute trailer is provided here which does a decent job of setting up the film.
Quick Change has long been under-appreciated for the place it occupies in the history of Bill Murray projects. The film is very funny with a madcap performance from Murray and equally entertaining turns from the talented ensemble. The movie never drags as it plows its way through humorously stressful situation after situation. Warner Archive has upgraded this feature to Blu-Ray with a stellar A/V presentation that fans have been wanting for years. If you are one of those people who appreciate this gem, you will be blown away by this presentation. Highly Recommended
Quick Change can be purchased directly through the Warner Archive Amazon Store or various other online retailers.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Warner Archive has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.