Daily Archives: March 5, 1993

Trends of Bill

From the Chicago Reader (March 5, 1993). –J.R.

MAD DOG AND GLORY

** (Worth seeing)

Directed by John McNaughton

Written by Richard Price

With Robert De Niro, Bill Murray, Uma Thurman, David Caruso, Mike Starr, Tom Towles, and Kathy Baker.

GROUNDHOG DAY

*** (A must-see)

Directed by Harold Ramis

Written by Danny Rubin and Ramis

With Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Marita Geraghty.

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As far as the mainstream is concerned, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are beacons of artistic integrity and originality, while Harold Ramis and Bill Murray are at best unpretentious entertainers; screenwriter Richard Price (The Color of Money, Sea of Love) is a respected pro, and director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Borrower) is a promising maverick. But all of these assumptions are challenged in one way or another by the two latest Bill Murray movies. In Price and McNaughton’s Mad Dog and Glory, produced by Scorsese, artistic integrity, originality, craft, daring, and promise seem in shorter supply than in Ramis’s Groundhog Day.

I may be oversimplifying certain issues here. Groundhog Day, which boasts no interesting characters, is held in place by a narrative premise so shopworn — big-city grouch discovers small-town virtues and the error of his ways — that merely thinking about it makes me want to doze off.

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Love Your Mama

After a long and successful career in day care, Ruby L. Oliver made this, her first feature, originally known as Leola, in her late 40s. It’s a remarkable debut: assured, tightly focused, surprisingly upbeat considering the number of problems it addresses without flinching–and the best low-budget Chicago independent feature I’ve seen. Set in contemporary Chicago, it concerns a 17-year-old girl from the ghetto whose plans for the future are jeopardized when she finds herself pregnant. In addition, her brothers are gradually drifting into a life of crime, her mother is having difficulty maintaining a day care center without a license, and her stepfather is an alcoholic and philanderer. The plot line is concentrated and purposeful, and the cast–including Carol E. Hall, Audrey Morgan (particularly impressive as the mother), Earnest Rayford, Andre Robinson, and Kearo Johnsonis uniformly fine. In addition to writing, directing, producing, and financing the film, Oliver is also credited with casting, served as set decorator and location manager, and sang as well as wrote the lyrics to the film’s theme song (1989). (Chestnut Station)… Read more »