Movie Review 2007 #18: The Man who knew too Little

A light comedy spoof of the spy genre, starring Bill Murray.


Bill Murray plays Wally Richie, Ugly American in Britain to surprise his brother and his British wife with an unexpected and unwanted visit, especially since James is giving an important dinner for his work clients.
To get Wally out of his hair, and a birthday present in the bargain, James signs up his brother for “Theater of Life”, an improvised live action role playing set in the streets of London. Richie dives head first into the idea, not realizing that by a twist of fate, he misses the actual cue to start the Theater, and falls into a real conspiracy of blackmail, and ambassadorial murder…
The movie works best as a satire of the “ugly american” in a foreign country and Wallace’s unshakable belief that he is in the show and that he is the star. With this complete confidence, and a lot of luck, Wallace comes across as an “American superman” agent who can do no wrong, against trained opponents. I’ve never seen such luck of a pure amateur against professionals in the genre outside of Scarecrow and Mrs King, but given Wally’s total immersion in his “Role”, it makes a lot of sense.
Sure, the movie is a froth and doesn’t rise above the level of mild entertainment, it is an effective “light dessert course” to the darkness and complexity of Three Days of the Condor. It probably could also work as a palette cleanser for other spy movies as well, similarly.