Bill Murray’s under-rated comedy Quick Change arrives on Blu-ray (finally) thanks to Warner Archive.
The Production: 4/5
Disillusioned City Planner Grimm (Bill Murray) dresses up as a clown and robs a bank in Manhattan with the help of longtime friend Loomis (Randy Quaid) and girlfriend Phyllis (Geena Davis). They manage to escape undetected, leaving their hostages in the vault and the entire New York City police force waiting outside ready to storm the bank once chief Rotzinger (James Robards) gives the word. The only problem the three would-be bank robbers have is getting out of New York and getting to JFK airport, which is thwarted by road construction, a thief posing as a tourist, and the mob, just to name a few.
I was one of the few who saw Quick Change when it opened theatrically in the summer of 1990. The film received decent reviews (Roger Ebert enjoyed it and gave it 3 stars), but was largely ignored by the American movie-going public. And that is a shame, as this was supposed to be Murray’s comeback movie after the disappointing Ghostbusters II and Scrooged. Geena Davis’s Phyllis is one of the funniest roles of her career, and has some real chemistry with both Murray and Quaid. Quaid’s Loomis is more than the typical dufus he was being typecast as during this time period, someone who has a lifelong loyalty and brotherly love to Murray’s character. Robards has some fun as the cantankerous police chief who is waiting to retire on a high note (and the bank robbery is not looking to end well for him career-wise). But it is the fringe supporting characters and performances that really make this film a success, notably two unknown actors – Tony Shalhoub as the non-English speaking cab driver and Stanley Tucci as gangster sidekick Johnny. Other memorable small roles in the film include Philip Bosco as the straight as an arrow bus driver, Phil Hartman as the un lucky tenant moving into Phyllis’s apartment, Bob Elliott as the elderly Bank Guard, Jack Gilpin as the smarmy bank hostage trying to bribe Grimm into letting him go, Jamey Sheridan as the mugger, and Kurtwood Smith even has a small role that I cannot divulge without a spoiler. Quick Change was based on the novel of the same name by Jay Cronley and was first adapted as a film in 1985 in France as Hold Up. The screenplay by co-director Howard Franklin is intelligent and funny (Bill Murray is the other credited director) but does delve into darker comedic territory at times (the bicycle joust and the lady selling flowers on the street corner are two that immediately come to mind), and Michael Chapman’s cinematography captures the beauty, decay, and as the film progresses, the darker side of the Big Apple, which should come as no surprise having also lensed Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Ghostbusters II.
3D Rating: NA
Warner Archive’s AVC-encoded 1080p transfer retains the film’s intended theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is very film-like in its appearance with non-obtrusive and natural film grain. Colors are extremely vivid without bleeding or blooming (particularly the bright reds in Grimm’s clown costume). Detail is also excellent, revealing makeup, facial, and fabric textures as well as the cracks and potholes in the city streets and sidewalks. Contrast is very good, with deep blacks that do a very good job of maintaining as good a level of shadow details that the format will allow.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 matrixed surround mix is very good for its age and genre. While still front-heavy for the most part, the front sound stage does have a wide presence. Surrounds are used for atmospherics such as street noise and to help announce when the helicopter and monster truck arrive, but also to extend Randy Edelman’s score to the rears. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 1/5
Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:02): Colors on this trailer are extremely muted.
If you’ve never seen Quick Change, then you are in for a treat, not just for its comedic timing, but also for its wealth of supporting characters that illicit just as many laughs as the leads.
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