Hey, what kind of clown are you? The cryin’ on the inside kind, I guess.
New York is a hard town. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. The people are supposed to be unfriendly, coarse, unresponsive to cries for help. That’s the foundation that Quick Change (1990) builds from. Some things are the same. Historical buildings are built over or painted over with the newest cheap fad. Taxi drivers are unreliable. Landlords charge as much rent as they possibly can. But a lot is different. Well, it looks like the subway cars are roughly the same too. Oh, I know, you can’t get on a flight nine minutes before it’s supposed to take off. That’s different. Time Square has a lot more lights than it did twenty-three years ago. And the naughty video stores moved down a few blocks. Do the hot dog carts still run to get near the scene of the bank robbery?
A clown strapped with dynamite and wielding a gun (Bill Murray) holds up a bank. When the cops show up, he demands four things of Chief Rotzinger (Jason Robards): a city bus, a helicopter, a Harley Davidson, and a monster car. For each thing, he releases a hostage. First, he releases a coward (Randy Quaid), then a beautiful blond (Geena Davis) and…himself. They’re all in on the robbery. Grimm (Murray), a former city planner, and Phyllis (Davis) are together and Loomis (Quaid) is an old friend who idolizes Grimm, but has very little in the brain department. They make it out of the bank easily enough, cash taped to their bodies, but getting out of New York may be a little tougher. They get mugged, they can’t catch a cab, they have a run-in with the mafia, and that’s just the half of it. Who ever knew it’d be so hard to leave?
This is the kind of above-average comedy from writer/director Howard Franklin (with Murray getting co-director credit) that somehow slips through the cracks while junk like Stripes (1980) somehow gets an extended cut on Blu-Ray. Perhaps it’s the utterly uninspired DVD case that looks like it was put together by somebody’s nephew in MS Paint. They don’t go near the Lincoln Tunnel and pretzels play no part in the narrative. Perhaps it’s because audiences kept getting it confused with the funnier After Hours (1985) with hints of Dog Day Afternoon (1975). It does have all of the feeling of the kind of movie you’re very likely to see playing on a Saturday afternoon during the summer holidays. A nice diversion without any lasting significance. If it hadn’t ended exactly as it was supposed to, then maybe there would be something more to say for it.
That said, it’s a Bill Murray comedy with carte blanche on the down-beat characters he excels at. For under $5, it’s totally worth having around to while away the day or fill-in as easy viewing in your Bill Murray marathon. It’s also pretty funny to see Phil Hartman, Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Stanley Tucci, and Kurtwood Smith (dad in That 70’s Show) with their bit parts.