Quick Change

1990, Movie, R, 88 mins

Review

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It's another routine day in New York City. A man wearing a clown suit and makeup walks into a bank, pulls a gun, and announces that a robbery is about to take place. (Actually, he has to fire his gun at the ceiling before anyone pays attention to him.) Grabbing several bags of cash, the clown herds the customers and an elderly guard into the bank vault. When Police Chief Rotzinger (Jason Robards) and his men show up, the robber demands that a "monster" truck and a city bus be delivered to the bank before he will release any of the hostages. As Rotzinger begins to comply with the clown's outrageous demands, three hostages are freed. What the police chief doesn't realize is that the three released hostages are also the perpetrators of the crime: Grimm (Bill Murray), who has now taken off his clown get-up; Phyllis, his girl friend (Geena Davis); and Loomis, Grimm's dimwitted, adoring sidekick (Randy Quaid). The three escape the area around the bank with ease, and we learn that Grimm is a city planner. Fed up with New York, he hatched the robbery plot with his friends in order to escape to a more hospitable environment. At this point in the proceedings, however, their getaway begins to go awry. Grimm and company get totally lost while trying to get to the airport, and when they pull over to ask for directions, a friendly-looking motorist robs them of some of their loot. Returning to Phyllis's apartment, the three leave their car by a fire hydrant, only to watch the vehicle be destroyed by the Fire Department when a nearby building goes up in flames. Eventually, the trio is able to corral a cab; however, the driver doesn't understand a word of English, and Loomis, panicking, bolts from the moving cab and is knocked unconscious. Rotzinger, meanwhile, has begun to catch on to the plot and is in hot pursuit of Grimm and his friends. Through an incredible series of lucky breaks and misunderstandings, including a hilarious visit to a mob hideout, the three make it to the airport, though the threat of capture doesn't end until the film's final moments.

QUICK CHANGE provides many laughs, especially for New Yorkers. The mishaps that befall Grimm, Phyllis, and Loomis will be familiar to anyone who's spent time in the Big Apple; non-English-speaking cabbies, by-the-book bus drivers, interminable supermarket lines, and unmarked highways are all part of the New York experience. Indeed, the three robbers are nearly done in not so much by their own ineptitude as by the inefficiency and myriad inconveniences of life in New York City.

Murray's usual deadpan, sarcastic style works perfectly here, since he's playing a character who is used to the absurdities of city life; Davis is both convincingly exasperated and loving as the girl friend who can't decide whether Grimm is the right guy for her. The supporting performances are also on target, including the wonderful portrayal of the bank guard by Bob Elliott (of Bob and Ray), and Philip Bosco's bus driver, whose unflagging adherence to MTA policy causes Grimm to dub him "Ralph Kramden's evil twin."

Codirected by Murray (with screenwriter Howard Franklin), QUICK CHANGE unfolds cleverly, keeping the audience in the dark on the robbery plot throughout the film's opening reel. After piquing our curiosity, Murray and Franklin skillfully let us in on the scheme and slowly reveal the nature of the three characters at the center of it. Although the ending is a bit unbelievable, the excellent performances and unexpected plot twists make QUICK CHANGE a very entertaining film. (Profanity.) leave a comment

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Quick Change (Monnaie courante) [DVD] (2006) Bill Murray; Geena Davis
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