Review: The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray

The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor - Robert Schnakenberg

(I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review)


The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray is an encyclopedic compendium of everything Bill Murray, handily arranged in alphabetical order from About Last Night to Zombieland.


This is definitely a book for the hardcore fan. Those who are not die-hard aficionados will still find things to enjoy, but the book is designed for those most fascinated with Murray minutiae. I’m assuming most casual fans are not terribly concerned with Murray’s preferred maker of undershirts (it’s Zimmerli of Switzerland, by the way). On the other hand, the layout makes the book ideal for perusal rather than reading cover to cover, so it is easy to skim over the less interesting bits of arcana and jump to points of real interest if you find yourself dying to know the name of the dog Murray had in the 1980s.


The Big Bad Book covers not only the films Murray has worked on, but pretty much every project he’s ever been even tangentially related to. Airplane gets its own entry—because Murray famously turned it down. Schnakenberg has also included his personal ratings for each of the films Murray did sign on for, with a separate rating for Murray’s actual performance or contribution to the film (both on a 4-star scale). His summaries and various descriptions are clear, with lots of tidbits of trivia sprinkled throughout.


This is not a book optimized for digital, or at least not for display on a phone or e-reader. It will likely make a lovely coffee table book in print, but it is difficult for me to evaluate aesthetically, since the wide layout of the original didn’t translate well into digital.


Unsurprisingly, the famously private Bill Murray did not authorize this book or participate in its creation. Schnakenberg did speak to sources close to Murray when possible, but really this is a fan’s tribute to a favorite actor and not a biography. If you like Bill Murray, it will likely be up your alley. Otherwise, it’s a fun book to peruse but may not be for everyone.