Bill Murray in a Caddyshack Costume
In a career that’s spanned more than five decades, Bill Murray has played a wide variety of roles. His most memorable comedies, such as Caddyshack and Space Jam, have become classics, but his dramatic work is also noteworthy.
A weatherman for a local news station, Phil Connors (Murray) is sent to Puxatawney, Pennsylvania, where every year the town celebrates Groundhog Day, an event that involves the groundhog coming out of its burrow and seeing its shadow. If the groundhog sees its shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter; if it doesn’t, it’s spring.
While most people look forward to Groundhog Day, Phil Connors doesn’t. Rather, he hates it. His cynicism and his gloomy outlook are what make him such a difficult character to like.
Fortunately, director Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the script with Bill Murray, manages to rework his actor’s performance into something that’s both hilarious and affecting. The film is a bit formulaic, but it’s also well-crafted and enjoyable. The comedy isn’t so much about the characters as it is about the absurdity of the situation.
Murray plays a weatherman named Phil Connors, who takes on his cynicism to the next level when he learns that he has been chosen to be the “Groundhog of Punxatawney” this year. He finds it difficult to accept his fate, and is forced to face the fact that he’s been sent to a town he despises.
The movie’s plot is a bit too obvious, but the performance of Murray and the direction by Ramis are enough to keep the audience engaged. It’s one of the most pleasant, funny movies of recent years and is probably Murray’s best performance ever.
Another Murray movie that deserves to be mentioned here is Hyde Park on Hudson, where he plays Franklin D. Roosevelt and co-stars with Laura Linney, Olivia Williams and Samuel West. The historical comedy was praised for its witty dialogue and its depiction of a family visit to Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park.
Despite the success of his films, Murray has been criticized for his behavior on set. He has a history of being hostile toward his co-stars, and recently he was suspended from the set of Searchlight Pictures’ film adaptation of surgeon Atul Gawande’s bestselling book “Being Mortal.”
In addition to acting in popular movies, Murray has written and directed several award-winning short films. He received the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature in 2009.
His first short film, Get Low, was based on a true story. He also provided the voice for Mr. Badger in Wes Anderson’s 2009 animated feature “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
Murray is a fan of the Cubs, and he frequently appears at Cubs events and fundraisers as a way to connect with fans outside of the silver screen. He is also a proud fan of his hometown of Wilmette, Illinois.
He has been an active member of the Cubs community since he was a child, and he attended his team’s first ever World Series in 2016. His adoration for the franchise has prompted him to build a “Caddyshack”-themed bar in Chicago with his brother Andy.