It’s not clear if it was the pumping 80s music at the Weinstein Co. after-party or simply the glow from the rousing reception to his latest movie St. Vincent, but Bill Murray capped off his eponymous day with an epic dance party that saw him getting down with the likes of Kristen Wiig, Linda Cardellini and his co-stars Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and the young Jaeden Lieberher late Friday night in Toronto. The impromptu performance served as an excellent capper to the first annual Bill Murray day where the 39th annual Toronto Film Festival screened Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day for loyal fans. If enthusiasm is any indicator, it’s an event that should be repeated on an annual basis.
It helped that his new flick St. Vincent, the feature debut by writer/director Ted Melfi, was met with an extended standing ovation and a lively Q&A where Murray, having dispersed with his Bill Murray day crown and sash, alternated between entertaining and heckling audience members eager to learn more about this story that centers on the unlikely relationship between Murray’s drunken, gambling curmudgeon and the boy who moves in next door.
Still emotional from the film, Murray admitted to “slobbering while watching the damn movie.” He added that the goal of the movie was “to avoid being schmaltzy. We almost did. We almost did. We didn’t want to overcook everything.”
The film, set for an October 10th release, should enjoy some impressive box office numbers for its likability factor alone. Whether or not it can finagle a slot in the best picture race really depends on the how the rest of the competition pans out and whether or not there is room for an incredibly heartwarming, yet rather conventional storyline.
Murray seems to have a much better shot in the best actor category for his role as a lovable/disagreeable Vietnam vet grappling with a disappearing income and a wife suffering from Alzheimer’s. Naomi Watts’ outrageous turn as a pregnant Russian prostitute could also garner some attention, considering the part didn’t come, as she put it during the Q&A, “from a particularly natural place.”
The most compelling scenario to imagine this fall season is Murray engaging in an Oscar campaign—a game he hasn’t played since he earned a nod for 2003’s Lost In Translation—but it would be an entertaining one, should he decide to engage in the glad-handing required to nab a statuette.