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Movie Review

The Man Who Knew Too Little

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
12 to Adult
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
94 min.
Year of Release:
1997
PG

Starring: Bill Murray, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Peter Gallagher, Alfred Molina, Richard Wilson / Director: Jon Amiel / Released by: Warner Bros.

Wallace Ritchie’s (Bill Murray) birthday celebration goes strangely awry when he ends up being “The Man Who Knew Too Little.” Wallace is mistaken for a hitman by the target, for an American superspy by the British Secret Service, and for a criminal by the London police. Wallace, on the other hand, believes his entire adventure is an avant garde theatre production created for his birthday amusement and that he is the central actor! This spy spoof leaves you staring incredulously at the unparalleled levels of stupidity of bumbling Wallace.

Predictability could be the subtitle of this barely comedic film. Murray even seemed bored through the whole thing. The first twenty minutes of watching the lead led from scene to scene in order to present new situations for Wallace Ritchie to fumble his way through in the same ridiculous manner was enough! This was the same old hash we saw played over and over in “Airplane” and all her sequels and spin-offs.

“The Man Who Knew Too Little” contains violence and light profanity. The humor is generally free from sexual content; however, there is a bit of innuendo. The movie’s moral message is absent. The only thing one could possibly glean from this movie is “act stupid and you will succeed.”

Find a nice silly family film on video (perhaps a “Veggie Tales”) and skip “The Man Who Knew Too Little”. There is nothing new here worth your time or the cost of a ticket.

Viewer Comments
Bill Murray has played obnoxious roles very well. This time, he’s stupid which doesn’t draw quite the laughs his obnoxiousness did in “Groundhog Day” or in “What About Bob?” but it makes for a much more lovable lead character and one of the better comedies of recent memory. To be fair, I do know someone who didn’t like this if that makes the reviewer feel a little more sane. The best explanation might come in this: it’s a movie that is one long joke. I happen to find that joke funny. Those who don’t will be spending a long 90 minutes squirming in their couch. “The Man” is an inoffensive, nostalgic, low-key romp that never lets up for Bill’s fans (like me). I appreciate the way (even in the fast police chase) the movie isn’t very loud or in-your-face. It’s a gentle laugh-fest.
—Zack, age 16
My wife and I rented this one and thoroughly enjoyed it! We laughed hysterically during many parts of the movie, and highly recommend it to others who enjoy Bill Murray style comedy.
—T. Cowley, age 24
I strongly disagree with the reviewer’s poor entertainment rating of this film. I saw The Man Who Knew Too Little twice, once on an airplane and once with friends. Both times, people were rolling with laughter. I guess you have to like Bill Murray’s comic style. I guess you you have to buy into the continuous situational humour of this film. Given these premises, The Man Who Knew Too Little is a hilarious and witty 90 minutes of comedy. As good as or better than Groundhog Day and What About Bob. Not for children—some offensive suggestive humour—but for teenagers and up much better content than the vast majority of movies out there.
—Todd Adams, age 30
I objected to the scantily clad woman and sexual suggestions of the early scene where the hero is first in the role he thinks is a theatrical production. The remainder of the movie had no objectionable content either sexual or violence. There was typical Hollywood violence, people shoot and not one gets hit. However, the bad guys did get it in the end. The movie does not have a moral message, but I thought it was entertaining none the less. Movies don’t have to have a moral message to be fun. I wasn’t expecting Gone With the Wind so I wasn’t disappointed. I recommend you save your coins and watch it on video for some light entertainment, and fast forward past the “maid costume” scene.
—Dale, age 47 (my 14 year old son enjoyed it, too)