I was going to start this column with a question about where the hell Bill Murray's been for the past couple of years. But as IMDB.com just reminded me, it's not that Murray's been gone, really, so much as whatever pieces of him we've gotten lately have been very, very small. The last time Murray properly starred in a film was Jim Jarmusch's underrated Broken Flowers in 2005; since then, pretty much all we've seen or heard of him has been in a cameo in The Darjeeling Limited, a cameo in Get Smart, and some voicework in the astoundingly titled Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.
If that seems like a paltry dose of one of our best comedic actors, it is—especially considering the direction of Murray's career a few years ago. In Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, Wes Anderson's Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Broken Flowers, the aging Murray combined his comic talents with an authentic, world-weary heaviness, moving past his career-making parts in stuff like Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. But then... nothing, unless one was content with lightning-quick cameos, or found the idea of a CG cat hanging out with Jennifer Love Hewitt and grumbling about lasagna to be hilarious.
At least things are looking up. Well, sort of: This week, Murray has a great supporting role in City of Ember, and he has a part in Jarmusch's next project, and he'll contribute his voice to both Anderson's adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox and a Ghostbusters videogame. But still—that doesn't seem like much. It can't really be that hard to crank out a Lost in Translation 2: This Time, They're Goin' to the Bahamas!, right? I mean, the situation's getting kind of dire, here—let's just say that A Tail of Two Kitties isn't sounding nearly as unwatchable as it once did.