Quick Change is probably the least famous of the good Bill Murray movies. This is a grown-up, more cynical version of the Murray characters from movies like Stripes and Ghostbusters. He’s Grimm, a fed-up city planner for New York City and he’s decided to get out of town with his girlfriend, Phyllis (Geena Davis), and best friend, Loomis (Randy Quaid). First, however, he’s going to rob a bank.
The opening bank robbery scene plays out as a demented parody of Dog Day Afternoon. Grimm enters the bank dressed as clown and pulls a gun, herding everyone into the vault. The police respond, led by Chief Rotzinger (Jason Robards), and begin negotiations with Grimm. His demands are many and strange, including a helicopter, a bus, a motorcycle and a monster truck. In exchange for which he releases three hostages, who just happen to be Grimm, Phyllis and Loomis, with the loot taped to their bodies under their clothes.
The robbery may have gone off without a hitch, but it was a cakewalk compared to the supposedly mundane task of reaching JFK airport. They quickly loose 1) their way, 2) their change of clothes and 3) their car. Meanwhile, Rotzinger has figured out that he was had and is now on a personal crusade to apprehend the robber who made a fool out of him.
As they try desperately to make their flight, the trio deal with a cab driver (Tony Shalhoub) with no command of English or the traffic laws, a roomful of wiseguys, a bus driver (Philip Bosco) with a singular obsession with following the rules to the letter and Phyllis’s growing dissatisfaction with their relationship.
The three leads are a fine comic team. Murray’s character contains equal parts optimism about their ultimate success and cynicism about city life (“God, I hate this town.”) Davis’s role is a rather thankless role as written but she invests it with a quirky sensibility that makes Phyllis more of a individual than the script gives her any right to be. Quaid’s Loomis is a gentle simpleton who spends most of the movie in a carefully modulated state of panic. Robard’s character is played as a competent professional at a low boil. He’s a worthy foil for our anti-heroes, which helps make the comedy work.
If you’re a Bill Murray fan, and you’ve never seen this one, treat yourself.