Jump in the DeLorean and gun it to 88 cause we’re up for another trip back in time.
Today we need to take a look at a delightfully irreverent bit of film we fondly remember as Where the Buffalo Roam. In this flick Bill Murray the comedic mad man that brought us the funny in Caddy Shack, Saturday Night Live, Stripes, and Ghostbusters takes a turn for the off beat (even for him). This 1980 picture shows a young and relatively new to the biz Bill Murray portraying the iconic Gonzo writer, Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson is a favorite among the strange, psychedelic, and just plain psycho. This freedom obsessed and ultra prolific American author lends himself nicely to film adaptation.
This film takes us on an all access pass trip inside Thompson’s early career as a journalist. Such hits from the Gonzo author include Where the Buffalo Roam, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Rum Diary which has recently been adapted for the screen. All three works are roller coaster rides stinging together a series of alcohol soaked and drug ridden adventures. Some of these adventures have glorious purpose like the defense of civil liberties being endangered by he always tricky, Dick Nixon. Other installments are simply everything you would expect from radical 60’s life. From the abuse of substance to the substance of abuse.
So let me stope wasting time gushing over the man’s work and gush over Bill Murray’s performance. Murray played the title role in the first adaptation followed by Johnny Depp for the remaining two titles. Our lovable greenskeeper showed remarkable talent in his ability to mimic the unusual sound and mannerisms required. Depp is a fine actor to be sure but I put it to you reader, Bill Murray wins the “Play Hunter Championship”. His innate comedy chops and sense of timing add beautifully to his nuanced (while outrageous) performance. Few actors A, B, or C grade can get through a performance of this style without breaking stride at least once. That moment where we recognize the performer and lose sight for a moment of what they are performing. Bill Murray was Hunter S. Thompson from the opening credits to the last line.
Among the strangeness that is this flick, there was an extra element left to the determination of the audience. This X-Factor is the twisted myth of the law loving (especially while he broke it) attorney, known to us only as Lazlo. Lazlo is a key figure in much of Thompson’s writings. However, did the man exist? Portrayed by the late, supremely talented and thankfully deranged Peter Boyle, Lazlo jumps off the screen and into your personal space. Appearing at all the wrong moments this legal eagle would partake of the journalists ever present medicine bag of assorted paraphernalia before leading him into one hallucinatory misadventure after another. But, perhaps his presence is all a hallucination. Could he be the legendary muse? Could we have misread the prophecy? Instead of the most beautiful women fabled to inspire great works of art and literature, perhaps inspiration comes from the balding eccentric that is Lazlo aka Peter Boyle. In truth reader I might be fine either.
To bring this rambling to close I suggest you all view this flick and get back to us here at Glued2thescreen.com. Let us know which is your favorite installment by the author. Because folks to get a viewer to care about the characters and inspire some meaningful questions is no less than kick-ass film making. So thanks to Hunter, Bill, and director Art Linson for putting something up on screen that breaks from the mundane and all around clockwork bland.
Keep checking in because, I’m going to keep writing about the awesome, the sad, the totally groovy, and the completely insane here at Glued 2 The Screen. Why you ask? Because as Hunter S. Thompson (Bill Murray) tells us at the end of the flick “It still hasn’t gotten weird enough for me”.
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