Bill Murray makes Big Apple sauce of New York, New York, in his latest comedy, an amiable comment on the vagaries of metropolitan life. As co-produced and co-directed by the former ghostbuster, "Quick Change" becomes a randomly, raggedly funny look at the personal cost of being one with the hustling, clamorous crowd.
Under the co-direction of writer Howard Franklin, Murray also stars as a frustrated city planner whose faith in the city has eroded like a poorly filled pothole. Fed up with the corruption, cabbies, crazies and co-op conversions, the hero decides to make his escape from New York, which entails robbing a bank in a clown suit. His plan seems foolproof enough, but then he hasn't counted on the getaway car being towed.
Pursued by Jason Robards's police chief, Murray and his accomplices (Geena Davis and Randy Quaid) soon find that it's easier to heist a million dollars than it is to hail a cab in Gotham. And a series of everyday nuisances turns into a chain of riotous near disasters as they make their way from Manhattan to JFK.
The cabbie (hilarious Tony Shalhoub) who finally stops for them speaks not a syllable of English, and the Baby Hueyish Quaid, frustrated beyond endurance, throws himself from the cab. Luckily Davis and Murray are able to drag their semiconscious comrade into an airport bus, but the driver won't let them board without exact change. The aggravations stack up like air traffic.
"Quick Change" is a screwball variation on Martin Scorsese's "After Hours," an urbane nightmare of little consequence and many laughs. Essentially it's a five-character study -- the three bank robbers, the cop and the naked city. Davis, plush as ever, is a little whiny and underwhelming as Murray's girlfriend, who spends much of her time nurturing Quaid, doing his familiar sweet-natured lummox.
Behind the lens Murray has an uneven touch (or perhaps his co-director does), and "Quick Change" is given to slow moments and miscalculations. But in front of the camera, he is as wonderfully acerbic as ever, equal parts anger and hurt feelings as he grapples with the rot of the Apple, the roar of subway, the smell of the crowds.