When I think of the Hot Docs Film Festival and their incredible selection of documentaries, I naturally assume that they are all about extremely dark realities and shocking prejudice. Although, there are usually those few shiny stones in there, that are a lot more lighthearted but equally as impactful. My heart was a few more cracks away from breaking before THE BILLY MURRAY STORIES: LIFE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A MYTHICAL MAN came alone and sewed it back together. With a quick sense of humor and a whole lot of love for humanity, this documentary got a sold out auditorium howling of laughter and some joyful tears on a Wednesday morning; an accomplishment that not many other documentaries succeed at. There is not a sliver of hyperbole when I say that this film truly kept me smiling for the entire short but sweet runtime.
THE BILL MURRAY STORIES’ subject matter is fairly straightforward as it follows some fairly infamous tall tales of the universally adored actor showing up unexpectedly at random locations. These stories can range anywhere from him whispering in the ears of college freshman in bathrooms during parties, to him reading poetry to a group of construction works to help them obtain a better grasp of what they are building. Although these surprisingly truthful stories do range in terms memorability, they all share one very common factor in that they are all thoroughly hysterical! Conversations and interviews with mesmerized witnesses’ enthusiastically expressing their genuine reactions added to how surreal it all was while looking at the big picture.
Even though Tommy Avallone has contagious levels of charisma and is an extremely likeable personality, he does swim towards the deep end. He doesn’t just laugh along at these stories but asks the question that many other curious observers have most likely had bouncing around while pondering these stories. “But why?” From that point onward, the film turns from a lighthearted comedy exploring the quirky third act of a lovely man’s life into something quite different. The sense of humour and upbeat tone remain the same but by the end and you are left with an impact in your gut that is both uplifting and life-affirming.
I cherished every second of this beautiful and passionately-crafted film and the perfect start to a new turning point in the lives of many others. Not only does it leave you fulfilled and with a warm feeling on the inside, the film sends you off with meaningful advice for those stuck in the digital age of interacting with your phone more than you interact with the people around you. Bill Murray is teaching us all how to live again and we should be forever grateful that a human being can be as wonderful as he is.
THE BILL MURRAY STORIES: LIFE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A MYTHICAL MAN is playing at HotDocs, and watch out for it at a film festival near you in the future!
Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information on screening times and the festival.