Making the Grades
Can you hide an elephant in a video store? Larger Than Life just might prove that's possible, as this funny movie has attracted little attention even with Bill Murray on the front of the box.
Murray plays Jack Corcoran, a b-grade motivational speaker that typifies the classic "presenter in a box." In the opening scenes, Murray is at his best when he delivers pounds of feel good cliches to members of the American Motion Upholstery Association. But even though Murray's character Jack wishes he could move onto bigger things, inheriting Vera, a circus elephant, and $35,000 in debts, wasn't quite what he had in mind. The only solution is to move Vera to California where he can sell her and pay the bills.
I particularly enjoy Murray in a film where he is able use his unique subtle humor. Here he plays his part in such a natural way, that you can see how anyone in a similar situation would make the same decisions, and that sincerity is what makes the comedy work. When he has to rent a large rig to haul Vera, he is forced to fake his credentials as a seasoned trucker. Confidently, Jack jams the truck in gear and begins limping down the Interstate. Trying to shift and steer at the same time, Murray creates the funniest scene of the movie and typifies what happens when we try to pull more than we can haul.
The only interruption to Murray's quiet wit, is a trucker he meets named Tip Tucker (Matthew McConaughey). This obnoxious character works the first time around, but when he keeps returning in later scenes, his standup comic approach doesn't allow him to interact naturally with the rest of the cast.
Surprisingly enough, this movie only holds a few bad words and a couple of mild sexual innuendos. Young children may not find it as funny as an older audience, but they will enjoy scenes that involve Vera. Otherwise, Larger Than Life is a quiet giant waiting to be discovered.