The 10 Most Underrated Bill Murray Movies, Ranked

Bill Murray is often regarded as one of the greatest comedic actors of all-time, and served as a foundational member of the modern American comedy movement. Alongside his Saturday Night Live co-stars Dan Akroyd, Chevy Chase, and John Belushi, Murray developed a comedic style that mixed improvisation, dramatic irony, absurdism, and sincerity. Although it’s not easy to contact Murray about roles, he has gifted moviegoers with generations of laughter.


Although he’s considered to be a comic actor first and foremost, Murray proved that he had dramatic abilities with his devastating performance in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 dramedy Lost in Translation. Murray is often a more versatile actor than he is given credit for, and is often trying new things in order to keep his filmography feeling fresh. While classics like Ghostbusters, Stripes, Groundhog Day, and his work with Wes Anderson speak for themselves, Murray has many underrated gems that are worth checking out. Here are the top ten most underrated Bill Murray movies, ranked.


10 ‘Meatballs’ (1979)

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Bill Murray and Co. at Camp North Star in Meatballs
Image via Paramount Pictures

The late great Ivan Reitman directed many great comedy movies, and collaborated with Murray on classics like Stripes and Ghosbusters. They first teamed up on the 1979 comedy Meatballs, which followed a group of goofy counselors-in-training that work at a summer youth program known as “Camp North Star.” The counselors get into their fair share of trouble as they pull pranks on each other over the course of a tumultuous summer.

While Meatballs was less narratively driven compared to Reitman and Murrays’ other collaborations, there were more than enough wacky hijinks to keep it entertaining. Murray’s breakout role as the scene-stealing counselor Tripper Harrison established the style of extreme physical comedy that he would perfect in his later film appearances. While not the best of Murray or Reitmans’ filmography, Meatballs is worth revisiting to see how their illustrative creative partnership began.

Meatballs

Release Date
June 28, 1979

Cast
Bill Murray , Harvey Atkin , Kate Lynch , Russ Banham , Kristine DeBell , Sarah Torgov

Rating
PG

Runtime
99

Main Genre
Comedy

Genres
Comedy

Writers
Len Blum , Daniel Goldberg , Janis Allen , Harold Ramis

Tagline
Are you ready for a good time?

Watch On Tubi

9 ‘Ghostbusters II’ (1989)

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Ghostbusters-II
Sony Pictures

Great comedy sequels are few and far between, as many follow-ups tend to replicate the first film’s jokes instead of developing a new original story. While it pales in comparison to its predecessor, Ghostbusters II still features a terrific performance by Murray as Peter Venkman. Set five years after the original film, Ghostbusters II follows Venkman, Raymond Stanz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) as they deal with a new paranormal threat.

While Ghostbusters II may have felt like a disappointment at the time of its release, it’s an outlier in the franchise because it tried to do something different. While Murray’s cameos in 2016’s Ghostbusters and 2021’s Ghosbusters: Afterlife felt like cheap ways to mine nostalgia for the original film, Ghostbusters II allowed him to show how Venkman was grappling with his own success.

ghostbusters 2

Release Date
June 16, 1989

Director
Ivan Reitman

Rating
PG

Runtime
102

Writers
Dan Aykroyd , Harold Ramis

Studio
Columbia Pictures

Tagline
Be ready to believe us.

Watch On Apple TV

8 ‘What About Bob?’ (1991)

Directed by Frank Oz

Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss with sunglasses on in What About Bob
Image via Buena Vista Pictures

Murray is great at playing offbeat characters without making them obnoxious, and 1991’s What About Bob? is an underrated gem. Directed by Frank Oz, the film follows the mentally unstable patient Bob Wiley (Murray) as he tracks down his psychotherapist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) and his family to their summer resort. Although Wiley charms Marvin’s family, the egocentric doctor begins to grow increasingly agitated.

What About Bob? is a great showcase for Murray’s talents because he is intentionally irritating to be around. Although a lesser actor could have made the material uncomfortable, Murray is able to show how Bob’s idiosyncratic nature irritates Marvin. Murray does a great job at showing how Bob can’t help his phobias, and latches on to Marvin because he is the only person who has ever given him any guidance. Murray’s comedic style is very different from Dreyfuss’, which makes What About Bob? an underrated gem for both of them.

What About Bob?

Release Date
May 17, 1991

Rating
PG

Runtime
99

Main Genre
Comedy

Genres
Comedy

Writers
Alvin Sargent , Laura Ziskin , Tom Schulman

Studio
Touchstone Pictures

Tagline
Bob’s a special kind of friend. The kind that drives you crazy!

Watch On Apple TV

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7 ‘Wild Things’ (1998)

Directed by John McNaughton

WildThings
Columbia Pictures

Although he is considered to be one of the most charismatic comedy stars of his generation, Murray has given many great supporting performances. John McNaughton’s 1998 comedy caper Wild Things centers on high school guidance counselor Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), who is accused of assaulting his female students Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) and Kelly Lanier Van Ryan (Denise Richards). As Sam tries to prove his innocence, he hires the seedy defense attorney Kenneth Bowden (Murray) to represent him.

Wild Things is an outlier within Murray’s filmography because he plays a completely unlikeable character. It’s evident that Bowden does not care about his clients’ innocence, and only takes cases that are bound to be sensationalized by the press. Murray adds dark humor to the film as Bowden’s loyalties shift; it’s impressive that someone as generally likable as Murray was able to play such a monstrous character.

Watch On Apple TV

6 ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ (2003)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Coffeeandcigarettes
MGM

Murray has developed positive creative partnerships with many talented filmmakers, including writer/director Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch’s best films tend to focus on intimate existential conversations between characters in place of a traditional narrative. His 2003 comedy Coffee and Cigarettes is an anthology film that features several short segments of different characters conversing over meals. One of the best segments features Wu-Tang Clan artists GZA and RZA discussing the merits of nicotine, and features a performance by Murray as himself.

While Murray played himself in the 2009 comedy Zombieland, his performance in Coffee and Cigarettes is more than a cameo. The film itself is a commentary on the nature of celebrity, and Murray’s appearance allowed him to satirize his public image. While it wouldn’t be the last time that they worked together, Coffee and Cigarettes deserves more credit for being the film that kicked off Murray and Jarmuschs’ partnership.

Watch Now on Max

5 ‘Broken Flowers’ (2005)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

BrokenFlowers (1)
Focus Features

Although Murray gave a more dramatic performance in Lost in Translation, his most heartbreaking role to date was in Jarmusch’s 2005 dramedy Broken Flowers. The film follows the aging womanizer Don Johnson (Murray) as he sets out on a road trip to reunite with his former lovers. Jeffrey Wright gives one of his best performances as Don’s neighbor Winston, who he begins to suspect might be his son.

Murray’s underrated performance in Broken Flowers is an authentic representation of midlife depression and loneliness. Although the film reveals some sordid details from Don’s past, Murray is still able to generate empathy for the character by showing his redemptive arc. Murray’s charisma is essential to Broken Flowers’ tone; while the film could easily become uncomfortable to watch, Murray is able to add a light comic touch that ensures the film never becomes too miserable.

Broken Flowers

Release Date
August 5, 2005

Director
Jim Jarmusch

Rating
R

Runtime
106

Main Genre
Comedy

Genres
Comedy , Documentary , Drama , Mystery , Romance

Writers
Jim Jarmusch , Bill Raden , Sara Driver

Tagline
Sometimes life brings some strange surprises.

Watch On Apple TV

Related

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“How do you know if you want something yourself or if your upbringing programmed you to want it?”

4 ‘Get Smart’ (2008)

Directed by Peter Segal

bill murray agent 13 get smart
Image via Warner Bros.

While rebooting a classic television series is no easy feat, Peter Segal’s 2008 reboot of Get Smart actually did the original source material justice. The spy comedy follows the CONTROL intelligence agent Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell) and his ally Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) as they attempt to discover a traitor within their ranks. During Max’s mission, he seeks advice from the veteran CONTROL operative Agent 13 (Murray), who is bound to work in a tree.

Despite the brevity of his role, the scene between Max and Agent 13 is one of the funniest moments in the film. The scene shows how glamorized spycraft can be, and Murray does a great job at showing how worn down by his position Agent 13 is. Although Agent 13 theoretically could have played a more significant role in a potential sequel, a second Get Smart film has yet to come to fruition.

Get Smart

Release Date
June 19, 2008

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
110

Writers
Tom J. Astle , Matt Ember , Mel Brooks , Buck Henry

Tagline
Saving the world… and loving it.

Watch On Max

3 ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’ (2012)

Directed by Roger Michell

A woman gently touches a man's face

Murray is often attempting to work within different genres, which may explain why he did something completely different in Hyde Park on Hudson. The 2012 biopic follows President Franklin Roosevelt during the end of the 1930s, right before World War II breaks out. The film dramatizes Roosevelt’s affairs, and explores his preparations for the visit by King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman).

While it is hard to make a great film about the life of an American President, Hyde Park on Hudson is more interested in Roosevelt’s personal life than his politics. While there are some humorous moments involving Roosevelt’s romantic liaisons, the serious tone indicated that Murray was treating the material with respect. Hyde Park on Hudson takes a unique angle on history and features interesting revelations about Roosevelt’s life; Murray’s underrated performance elevates the material into a winning comedy.

Hyde Park on Hudson

Release Date
December 7, 2012

Director
Roger Michell

Rating
R

Runtime
94

Main Genre
Biography

Genres
Biography , Comedy , Documentary , Drama , History

Writers
Richard Nelson

Tagline
The President. The First Lady. The King. The Queen. The Mother. The Mistress…One weekend would unite two great nations…After cocktails of course.

Watch On Apple TV

2 ‘The Monuments Men’ (2014)

Directed by George Clooney

The Monuments Men
Image via 20th Century Studios

Although it failed to match the high expectations that its cast and director generated, The Monuments Men is a compelling historical adventure that explores the power of art. The film is based on the true story of Frank Stokes (George Clooney), a member of the Allied Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program that fought to preserve precious pieces of artwork from destruction during the height of World War II. Murray co-starred as Sergeant Richard Campbell, one of the men who risked his life to save Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece from being destroyed by the Nazis.

Murray was able to show why Campbell believes that art has value, and beautifully explains why the “Monuments Men’s” mission is so important for the preservation of knowledge. Interestingly, he shares many of his scenes with Bob Balaban, who co-stars as Private Preston Savitz; it’s interesting to see two traditionally comedic actors in more dramatic roles.

The Monuments Men

Release Date
January 24, 2014

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
118

Tagline
It was the greatest art heist in history

Watch On Netflix

1 ‘St. Vincent’ (2014)

Directed by Theodore Melfi

Jaeden Martell and Bill Murray in 'St. Vincent'
Image via Chernin Entertainment

Murray proved that he hadn’t lost his graceful comedic touch with his comeback performance in the 2014 dramedy St. Vincent. The film follows the Vietnam War veteran Vincent MacKenna (Murray), who becomes irritated by his new next door neighbor Maggie Bronstein (Melissa McCarthy). Although he is initially standoffish, Vincent begins to become a mentor to Maggie’s lonely son Oliver (future The Lodge star Jaeden Martell).

Murray is perfect at making Vincent’s grumpy nature endearing. Although initially his attitude could have been irritating to listen to, Murray is able to show how experiences within Vincent’s past caused him to be less sociable. The playful interactions between Vincent and Oliver indicated that Murray still had the knack for physical comedy that had made his early roles so significant. Although Murray’s performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination, it was sadly overlooked by the Oscars.

St. Vincent

Release Date
October 9, 2014

Director
Theodore Melfi

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
103

Main Genre
Comedy

Genres
Comedy

Writers
Theodore Melfi

Tagline
Love Thy Neighbor

Watch On Tubi

KEEP READING: The 10 Most Underrated Tom Hanks Movies, Ranked

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