Jon Amiel directed this satire on mistaken-identity thrillers and the spy genre, scripted by Robert Farrar, Tim John, and Oliver Butcher from Farrar's unpublished novel, Watch That Man. In the female lead, Joanne Whalley returned to films after a three-year absence, choosing to do so with director Amiel. Farrar's Hitchcockian-style story focuses on naive Blockbuster Video clerk Wallace Ritchie (Bill Murray) who travels from Des Moines, Iowa, to London to celebrate his birthday with his wealthy younger brother, James (Peter Gallagher). When he turns up on the same night that James has plans to attend a high-profile client dinner party (that he hopes will bring him millions from a German investment firm), James needs to keep Wallace away during the evening, so he gives Wallace a ticket to the participatory Theater of Life. The theater game requires Wallace to assume a character and interact with actors portraying people in dramatic situations. At the corner phone booth, the initial call should begin the evening of innocent fun. However, the phone instructions Wallace receives are actually intended for an assassin, part of a scheme to end the current UK regime and revive the Cold War. The real assassin gets the call from the Theater of Life. Blissfully unaware, Wallace walks without fear into a complex web of intrigue involving defense ministers, call girls, and Russian hitmen. For Wallace, all the world's a stage, and he's amazed at the skill of the actors, including beautiful enigmatic Lori (Joanne Whalley) -- while Wallace's pursuers are mystified by their adversary's fearlessness in the face of threats, torture and bullets. Farrar got the idea for this comedy from a chance remark at a party: "The inspiration came from a dinner party, when somebody told me about these strange live theater performances which were all the rage in England in the '80s. The idea was to telephone for instructions if you wanted to take part. My immediate reaction was, 'Wouldn't it be fabulous if somebody got the wrong number, and it all went hopelessly wrong?'" Filming took place in London's East End (Three Mills Studios), at a variety of London locations, and just outside London at the Elstree Film Studios.~Bhob Stewart
Feature-length Audio Commentary by Director Jon Amiel
Bill MurrayWallace Ritchie
Peter GallagherJames Ritchie
Geraldine JamesDr. Ludmilla Kropotkin
Anna ChancellorBarbara Ritchie
Robert FarrarBook Author
Robert M. StevensCinematographer
Christopher YoungComposer (Music Score)
Jim ClayProduction Designer
Chris SeagersArt Director
Maggie GraySet Designer
Janty YatesCostume Designer
Simon KayeSound/Sound Designer
Comedy of Errors,Parody/Spoof
The Man Who Knew Too Little
Year of Release
Dolby Digital w/ sub-woofer channel, stereo, monaural
I love this movie! Honestly, yes, it's low budget but who cares. No big budget can make up for bad/shallow acting and lame scripts. This movie is awesome because it's intrinsic qualities. Bill Murray being at the top of the list.
If you're reading this review to see if you'd like the movie, just watch it.
If you're reading to decide if you want the Blu-ray version, I can say that the quality is great.
Bill Murray is the lead in this movie so of course it is going to be funny. He is a goofball that thinks he a part in an audience-participation theater event. He is the only one that believes that as the bullets and spies and intrigue are real.
Not one of Bill Murray’s most well-known or appreciated films, but very entertaining nonetheless. Hadn’t seen it in years until I picked this up at a great price, but quickly remembered why I enjoyed it.