Bill Murray’s kind of like pop culture’s Sasquatch: both are the subject of rabid fandom and obsession, and everybody seems to have a story about randomly encountering them in the wild. That reputation plays into the new comedy Saving Bill Murray, which was written and directed as a family affair by the Kinnane Brothers of Little Compton. In the film, two brothers find an abandoned car on a small Rhode Island back road, a pool of blood on the pavement, and a driver’s license belonging to one Bill Murray. From there, the two are on a madcap journey to find the legendary actor, a quest that isn’t much different from the one they’re currently engaged in behind the scenes.
“He’s a really hard guy to get ahold of,” says Chuck Kinnane, who directed the film and co-wrote it with his brothers Brendan, Daniel, John, Patrick, and Pete – creators of the YouTube channel Kinnane Brothers Comedy – and their brother-in-law Jeff Azize (Brendan and Patrick also star as the film’s leads). Murray, who replaced his agents with a confounding 800-number hotline decades ago, has stumped Hollywood’s biggest producers, yet somehow the Kinnanes were able to secure his blessing for the project.
“He loved the idea, loved the premise [but] couldn’t make a cameo [when we were filming],” Kinnane explains. With that greenlight, and permission to use his likeness in a digital cameo, the gang shot the film on the cheap in 2016, using local actors. It’s all but finished – but they’re still holding out for that cameo. Contact has been spotty but promising, and in true Rhode Island fashion, everyone seems to have some sort of connection to Murray.
“I can’t tell you how many people we’ve talked to while working on this film who have Bill Murray stories,” Kinnane says. The car the brothers find in the film – an appropriately stylish ‘67 Sunbeam Alpine – belongs to Lieutenant Maryanne Perry of the Portsmouth Police Department; one day, while Perry was driving in Newport, Murray hopped into the car without warning because he really wanted to take a ride in it. For their holy grail cameo in a short scene in Newport, the Kinnanes are banking on Murray’s friendship with Rhode Island surfing legend Sid Abbruzzi.
“For Bill Murray fans it would be tough to do the film without him appearing in some way,” says Kinnane, who feels that this last missing piece of the film is within their reach. “He’s super supportive. We’re hoping to find the time to get him.”