Wednesday, April 21, 2021

QUICK CHANGE (1990) (Warner Archive Blu-ray Review)


Label:  Warner Archive
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: R
Duration: 88 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Howard Franklin, Bill Murray
Cast: Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid, Jason Robards, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub

In 1990 I was I was all in on Quick Change from the get-go - the trailer looked great and it starred Bill Murray, the star of some of my favorite comedies of all-time: Meatballs, Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters, I was sold! Apparently I was one of the few who thought that though, because it tanked big-time at the box office. That's alright though, not all films find their audience while playing at the cinema, some only go onto develop a cult following over time through home video rentals and repeated cable airings, but that doesn't seem to have been the case with Quick Change. In my opinion this flick is still a bit of an unsung gem in the Bill Murray canon, which is a real shame, as it is the only film Murray ever directed, co-directed actually, with Howard Franklin (The Man Who Knew Too Little). That it has not gone on to develop a wider audience is strange to me as it's a breezy, light-hearted heist flick that brings to mind Dog Day Afternoon by way of After Hours, and it stars Bill Murray! 

With Quick Change we have a heist film set in the lesser seen parts of Manhattan and Queens, with Murray playing a disgruntled city planner named Grimm, who along with his girlfriend Phyliss (Geena Davis, The Fly) and best friend Loomis (Randy Quaid, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation), enact a million dollar bank heist. Things start off with Murray dressed as a clown holding up a bank. Initially when Murray's clown announces it's a hold-up the patrons and tellers laugh it off, it's a guy in a clown suit after all, but when he whips out a gun shows off his chest full of dynamite they take him a bit more seriously. He gathers all the tellers and patrons and forces them into the safe, holding them hostage while he awaits the arrival of the cops so he can make his demands.  

Grimm and his not-too-hard-to-spot accomplices soon discover that that the heist and evasion of the authorities is fairly easy to pull-off, but when an errant car horns threatens to derail the whole shebang, Grimm and cohorts find that getting to the airport will be a most frustrating endeavor. While headed to the airport the trio witness a bizarre bike-jousting ceremony that utilizes janitorial and gardening supplies, a sight which gives Loomis the willies. He believes that seeing such a thing is a jinx, and he's not wrong about that, because right after that their car is stolen by a mugger (Jamey Sheridan, The Stand). Now slightly panicked with time running out and without a vehicle they struggle to find transportation, first grabbing a cab which ends with Loomis giving himself a concussion, then boarding a bus that only gets them nearer the airport, and they even end up on a baggage tram, but each time they find themselves thwarted by a comedy of errors and a string of bad luck, with the cops not far behind. 

Along the way they encounter seedy gangsters played by Victor Argo (The Electric Chair) and Stanley Tucci (Monkey Shines), a non-English speaking cabbie played by Tony Shalhoub (Thirteen Ghosts), a comically strict bus driver who only accepts exact change (Philip Bosco, The Money Pit), and an irate apartment dweller (Phil Hartman, Coneheadswho holds them at gunpoint. We also get Jason Robards (The Ballad of Cable Hogue) as the frustrated lead cop caught up in Grimm's "Clown Day Afternoon" scenario. 

The flick has a better first two thirds than the last but I still dig it. All the stuff at the bank is golden, and Murray in clown make-up basically being his sardonic self is always gonna be a good time. Gina Davis and Randy Quaid are solid sidemen for Murray, even if Quaid only seems to serve as the idiot friend punchline to Murray's increasingly irate ringleader. I also quite enjoyed the After Hours styled one-night-in-the-city with time running out shenanigans, but the way it all pans out at the end sort of feels flat to me by comparison, though we do get a not unwelcomed appearance from Kurtwood Smith (Robocop). 

Audio/Video: Quick Change (1990) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Warner Archive with a new 2021 HD scan framed in the original 1.85:1 widescreen. Unsure what the source is but the fresh scan look fantastic, the source is clean and blemish free with a thin layer of film grain that supports pleasing amounts of fine detail and texture. The colors are well saturated and look great in HD, plus the black levels are during the night scenes are strong, and depth and clarity look terrific. Audio comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo with optional English subtitles. This is a mostly dialogue driven film but as the trio make their way through the burroughs of NYC there's some good stereo panning effects and cityscape atmospherics.

The sole extra is a 2-min theatrical trailer for the film that will make you appreciate the new HD scan of the feature. The single-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork featuring the theatrical movie poster artwork, which also features on the Blu-ray disc.

Special Feature:
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 

Quick Change (1997) gets a terrific looking Blu-ray from the Warner Archive, offering fans and newcomers a chance to discover, or re-discover, this underrated Bill Murray gem with a very pleasing 1080p HD presentation that breathes new life into it. 

Screenshots from the Blu-ray: