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Wallace Ritchie (Bill Murray), the man who knew too little, is a manager of a Blockbuster Video outlet who dreams of being an actor. After receiving a generous birthday gift from his banker brother James (Peter Gallagher) who lives in London, Wallace decides to pay him a visit. For James, the timing couldn't be worse -- he's about to try and close a huge business deal over dinner, and wants his hicksville brother from Iowa out of the way.
To keep Wallace busy, James buys him a night with an interactive theater group. The idea is that Wallace gets to be an actor, but of course things don't work out as planned. Going to the phone booth where he is to receive instructions from the group's director, Wallace instead gets a call intended for an assassin who has been hired to blow apart European political relations. Wallace thinks he's playing a role, but we know he's playing for real.
And being too real is why this movie doesn't work. With the hopes of having a bomb explode in the middle of a major diplomatic dinner, the entire story is a mix of murders, torture, bombs, and sexual innuendo, including one scene where a woman is whipping her husband. These depictions of sex and violence left me wondering how the MPAA arrived at a PG classification.
Perhaps the real man who knew too little is writer Robert Farrar. His previous film and television work, according to his biography, has consisted of writing sketches for the BBC. His short form comedic writing is what makes this movie feel like a far too long sketch from a British comedy. Wallace's ignorance to the danger he's in doesn't make the guns and bombs humorous. The only time I was laughing was when the violent situations were put aside long enough for Murray's antics to be appreciated. However, the laughs are still too few and far between, leaving me feeling as tortured as some of the characters on screen.
The Man Who Knew Too Little is rated PG: for language, innuendo, comic violence and sensuality
Cast: Bill Murray, Alfred Molina