Larger Than Life

on November 01, 1996 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   While promoting his new book, motivational speaker Jack Corcoran (Bill Murray) receives unsettling news about his father's passing. It seems that his pere, believed dead before Jack was born, only died recently. When he meets with the estate attorney, Jack discovers his father was a circus clown and left him an 8,000-pound pachyderm named Vera. Because he can't keep Vera and needs to get himself out of debt, Jack makes a deal, but the catch is he must transport the elephant from New Hampshire to California in five days. This light-hearted comedy has the right formula for a buddy road trip tale: It starts with rejection, blossoms into acceptance, has a run in with disaster, builds up trust, and closes with friendship. But the trip wouldn't be complete without an antagonist, and here that's played by paranoid trucker Tip Tucker ("A Time to Kill's" Matthew McConaughey, a treat) who loves to talk and talk and talk. When he finds out that he's been snookered by Jack, Tip proves relentless in his attempts to even the score.
   Murray's improvisational talents are just as sharp as ever, so this film puts this member of comedy's royal family where he belongs. Plus, the bond that forms between Jack and Vera (who some might recognize as Tai, who played the "Operation Dumbo Drop" elephant) is believable enough to make the audience care; Vera becomes as lovable as a St. Bernard. However, although Murray fans will like "Larger Than Life," for other audiences the film will seem weak next to the memory of "Ghostbusters" and the like. Lacking that bravura strength, the film could have trouble muscling its way through the boxoffice competition. Starring Bill Murray and Matthew McConaughey. Directed by Howard Franklin. Written by Roy Blount Jr., Pen Densham and Garry Williams. Produced by Richard B. Lewis, John Watson and Pen Densham. A United Artists release. Comedy. Rated PG. Running time: 94 min. Opens 11/1 wide
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