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‘The Bill Murray Experience’ explores the bizarre cult fascination with a Hollywood legend

‘The Bill Murray Experience’ has a lot of heart

Did you hear about the time Bill Murray crashed a bachelor party and imparted sage marriage advice to the groom? What about the time Bill Murray crashed a couple’s engagement photo shoot? Or when Murray surprise bartended at an Austin bar? Or when he crashed a karaoke party? Or ate some guy’s fries and whispered to him, “Nobody’s going to believe you.”?

The internet is full of stories telling of crazy Bill Murray encounters, both true and fictional. There’s even a website devoted to archiving them. Somehow Bill Murray has transcended normal celebrity and become an unlikely folk hero, a mythic figure, the stuff of urban legend.

So, after Sadie Katz’s engagement fell through and she started reading about all these quirky Bill Murray stories one night, the brokenhearted actress was inspired to undertake a mission. She embarked on a quest to seek out her very own magical Bill Murray moment and decided to document the journey.

The Bill Murray Experience, the new documentary from Gravitas Ventures, chronicles Katz’ foolhardy cross-country adventure to try and orchestrate a perfect chance encounter with the elusive film icon.

The film is a love letter to one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic stars. But even more, it’s a personal portrait of a woman at a crossroads in her life who is in search of some intangible, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The documentary also provides a glimpse at the self-destructive power of obsession as, what seemingly started out as a fun lark Katz’s friends were willing to participate in, would soon push those friendships to their breaking points.

But, though Katz proves to be an engaging presence throughout, it’s difficult to say whether this is a story worth being told in the first place. There is something inherently interesting about the strange mythos surrounding Murray’s celebrity that holds a unique spot in our collective imaginations as with the singular cult phenomenon of the Bill Murray encounter meme. But is Sadie Katz’s ill-conceived trek the best avenue for exploring Murray’s role in our culture?

There are certainly times when her quest feels completely trite and unworthy of our attention. However, despite the ludicrous nature of her ultimate mission — as well as the thought and care Katz puts into such individual elements of her plan like purchasing 100 balloons to deliver to Murray without quite working out the logistics of actually transporting 100 balloons — there’s something somehow universally relatable in her quixotic pursuit of the transcendent.

The Bill Murray Experience is being released across VOD platforms and via iTunes, Dec. 19.

Is It Good?

The Bill Murray Experience probably won’t be the most groundbreaking doc you’re likely to see this year but, what it lacks in profundity, it makes up for in sheer heart. And who doesn’t love to root for an underdog determined to accomplish a dream, no matter how silly the dream might be?

The Bill Murray Experience
Is it good?
The Bill Murray Experience probably won't be the most groundbreaking doc you're likely to see this year but, what it lacks in profundity, it makes up for in sheer heart. And who doesn't love to root for an underdog determined to accomplish a dream, no matter how silly the dream might be?
Katz is an engaging onscreen presence
Murray's unique brand of celebrity is a fascinating subject for discussion
Interesting behind-the-scenes insights into the film Stripes provided by P.J. Soles
The film only really touches the surface regarding Murray fando

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