Quentin Tarantino just wants flawed characters to own being the antihero.
Tarantino penned in his new book “Cinema Speculation” that the decline of unlikeable leads marked “the curse of eighties cinema,” with feel-good films swooping in because they were easier to market to mass audiences after a dark ’70s.
“It was that complex and complicated lead characters of the seventies were the characters that eighties cinema avoided completely,” Tarantino wrote. “Complex characters aren’t necessarily sympathetic. Interesting people aren’t always likable. But in the Hollywood of the eighties, likability was everything.”
The Academy Award winner continued, “If you did make a movie about a fucking bastard, you could bet that fucking bastard would see the error of their ways and be redeemed in the last twenty minutes. Like for example, all of Bill Murray’s characters.”
Tarantino explained that Murray’s onscreen persona as a sarcastic nihilist was completely thrown out when it came to the third act of Murray’s comedies, landing instead with a faux redemption arc for the actor.
“How does Murray in ‘Stripes’ go from being an iconoclastic pain in the ass, who deserves to get beat up by Drill Sergeant Warren Oates, to rallying the troops (“That’s the fact, Jack!”), and masterminding a covert mission on foreign soil? And ‘Stripes’ was one of the hip movies,” Tarantino wrote. “Film critics always preferred Bill Murray to Chevy Chase. Yet, more often than not, Chase remained the same sarcastic aloof asshole at the film’s end he was at the beginning. Or at least his conversion wasn’t the whole point of the movie as it was in ‘Scrooged’ and ‘Groundhog Day.'”
The “Pulp Fiction” auteur added, “Admittedly, when you don’t give a fuck about other people’s feelings, it probably does wonders for your caustic wit. But I’ve always rejected the idea that Bill Murray’s characters needed redemption. Yeah, maybe he charmed Andie MacDowell [in ‘Groundhog Day’], but does anybody think a less sarcastic Bill Murray is a better Bill Murray?”
Of course, Murray has yet to have a redemption arc in real life. Sexual misconduct and assault allegations have recently come to light, with Geena Davis accusing Murray of harassing her on the 1990 film “Quick Change” as well as Murray’s on-set behavior leading to upcoming Searchlight Pictures film “Being Mortal” being shelved indefinitely.