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Larger Than Life

A movie directed by Howard Franklin

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Life Is A Carnival, Make A Friend If You Can

  • Jul 23, 2000
Pros: The music throughout the movie blends in perfectly

Cons: None

If you ever felt like dancing in the street with an elephant this would be the movie to do it to. Although there is no dancing in this movie, the music fits within each scene perfectly. Larger Than Life is a movie for the entire family to watch more than once.

The title is the first line to two songs in the movie and I liked them both and they seem to tell the whole story to the movie.

I originally found this movie at the video store and after renting it a few times noticed it was for sale in the used video bin. I snatched it up for under ten bucks. It still has the red sticker listing it as a comedy. The sticker says $19.99. The movie is from 1996 and runs for one hour and thirty three minutes.

Before the movie begins there are some previews for MGM/UA Family Treasures. Among them are Yours, Mine and Ours, Oliver and my next movie review, Please Don’t Eat The Daisies. It was a pleasure to see some old classics instead of the same old movies as other videos preview. Also previewed was the MGM Sing Along Songs with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Larger Than Life starts off at the 34th Annual Upholstery Convention with the introduction of the key note speaker, Jack Corcoran, the author of Get Over It. While Jack is pacing back and forth planning his speech, he receives a phone call from his mother. This becomes a pattern in the movie.

Bill Murray gives an outstanding performance as Jack. The speech begins with a story about how Jack’s father saved a child and died in the process. His book Get Over It is his way of sharing things he found out about himself. There is a funny bit in the room where the members at the convention are involved in climbing on top of each other in a pyramid.

Jack leaves the function and grabs a cab and heads over to his Mothers house. There is a function later that evening and he discusses expanding market share and his next convention of wall paper and then sand & gravel. There is a telegram received during this night and it tells of his fathers death.

The next scene is Jack, his fiancee, and Mother in the kitchen discussing how his father could of just died when he thought he died years ago. The story then comes out that his Mother left his father because he was a bad influence. The telegram mentioned he died a month earlier in Maryland, leaving a large inheritance for Jack to claim.

Jack arrives at the lawyer’s office ready to claim his fortune. What happens next is he receives a trunk and is told of his fathers heart attack while performing. Turns out Dad was a circus clown and the elephant appears in the office. Jack then learns of the amount due to the lawyer for damages incurred by the elephant, $35,000. Jack leaves and tells them they will be hearing from his Mother.

The scenes are of Jack and the elephant walking through the town and all the citizens staring at them. A young boy on a bicycle tells Jack of how he looks just like his Father. He tells Jack about whistling to communicate with the elephant. They continue walking until they end up in the cemetery and there is the grave of his Father. The elephant seems to know this as well. Then the police car arrives and the lawyer is sitting there telling Jack he has 14 days to come up with the money or go to jail.

At this point the cell phone in Jacks pocket rings and again it is his Mother. He tells her he will get back to her and receives a note from the lawyer. It tells him the name of the elephant and a person to contact, Blockhead in KC.

Jack calls information for the number to a zoo and the elephant takes the phone and steps on it. The local petting zoo will not take the elephant either. They end up at a junkyard where they stay the night. Jack calls his mother and tells her he will have to sell Vera for dog food. This is one of the many funny parts of the movie, because his Mothers name is Vera and the elephant was named after her. She says, how does that make me feel? Jack asks his Mother about the name from the note and she tells him Blockhead was a performer in the circus too and lives in Kansas City.

Jack leaves a message and the next morning gets a callback and after paying a hefty sum to the junkyard owner, since Vera scared the dog, they are on their way to KC.

Jack also calls the San Diego Zoo and speaks with Moe, played by Janeane Garofalo. He is told of a Gene Pool in Sri Lanka with a Herd of Elephants going via the Air Force on the 24th of the month. Moe explains how to tell if Vera is of the breeding age for an elephant. Turns out if the elephant has a smooth bottom to their foot they are. Moe also tells Jack that Vera should be drinking 25 gallons of water a day.

They did stop on the way to the junk yard at a Restaurant and Jack purchased the whole salad bar to go and fed Vera. The night they slept in the junkyard it had rained and they showed Jack in a car and the elephant outside.

Arriving at the train station all seems to be in order, until they run into an employee of the train who wants more money to transport an elephant. Jack was planning on taking a plane and then opted to ride the box car with Vera. They had only enough money to get to Kansas City. Jack and Vera met with Blockhead and his wife the tattooed lady. Jack kept staring at her and saw pictures of his father from the earlier days with his Mother. Kirby Blockhead showed Jack how to get Vera to do tricks. After spending the day with them Jack wanted to get Vera to the Zoo and had his deadline to make his next motivational speech according to his book tour.

Blockhead's beat up old trailer broke down and they parted on the highway. Jack made some more calls and found out about a talent agency that could net him more money than the zoo. He needed to pay the lawyer and pay his expenses while feeding an elephant on the road.

Jack rents a big rig trailer at a local place and tells the man he knows how to drive one. This is very funny watching Jack try to manage this big rig and it breaks down along a highway.

Jack and Vera now wait along the highway for a rig to pick them up. Vera hides behind a highway sign and it is funny to see Vera sneak a peak out and Jack says no get back there. The way Jack and Vera get along through the movie is evident and I have read that Bill Murray formed a bond with the elephant as well.

Jack and Vera end up at a truck stop and he is making phone calls again to the Zoo and then the talent agency. He has the option of San Diego Zoo or the Los Angeles Coliseum. Every trucker walking by he tries to get a ride asking if they are going out west.

Inside he goes and this trucker that talks a mile a minute, seems to be running on empty with no sleep sits down next to Jack. His name is TipTucker, played brilliantly by Matthew McConaughey. He walks like a trucker, wears the hat and boots. Jack overhears Tip talking to the company he works for and makes another call to Tips cell phone from outside and cancels his run and tells him he has to go to California. Tip is not happy about this and comes back into the truck stop café and tells Jack about his woes. Jack says he is going to California and then they all ride in his rig. Jack must suffer in the front and listen to Tip talk and talk and I honestly am not sure what he was saying. Another funny line is when Jack asks Tip if he has slept recently, and he says he slept last week.

They stop in the Rocky Mountains and Tip makes a phone call. Jack is fantasizing about the women Terry he flirted with from the talent agency and telling Vera maybe she will meet a male elephant. Tip gets off the phone and comes after Jack with a tire rod and they fight over the mixup of the rig pick up.

Vera saves Jack and they get their belongings out of the trailer and off Tip goes to his truck. This part is a crack up. Watch the way Tip walks to the truck and try to understand the gibberish he is yelling about getting the police about them hijacking his rig and the elephant trying to kill him.

The trunk gets tossed over and the one thing that the elephant saved was this squishy red ball that looks like a clowns nose. This happens in the movie as Vera keeps picking up the red ball every time Jack drops it. The scenery is so pretty and from here Jack decides he is going to learn how to ride on an elephant. He says, okay Honey, where are the stairs. He gets on Vera and the next part cannot be missed. The music is the best in the movie and Vera and Jack go right into the lake and it is so sweet to see them playing around in there.

Jack then looks on the map and then figures out how to get to the badlands of New Mexico. Vera saves a church in NM and the locals gather some clothes from a store for Jack to wear. The boy picks the clothes that he sees in the poster, “She wore a yellow ribbon”. Jack rides on Vera while the cowboys ride their horses and they meet at the State line by the Indians. They all stand and block the incoming train and the next scene is Vera and Jack on top of the train while the people are standing alongside the train with their lanterns shining.

Next stop, Los Angeles Coliseum and Jack is smitten by Terry and Vera meets an elephant. While Jack is in the office he sees something and asks if it is an electronic back scratcher. He is informed it is to give the elephants a zing or two and he observes the other elephant getting a zap. He immediately leaves with Vera and takes a truck.

They make it to the San Diego Airport in record time and the scenes in the airport are really amusing. People are told to set up against the wall and make way for the elephant. About this time Tip found the business card to the San Diego Zoo and was heading to the airport as well.

After Jack manages to get past Security in rushes Tip accusing Jack and Vera of the hijacking and attempted murder. The guards are busy talking into their watches and doing codes and Jack does it too and messes with Tip who thinks it is a federal sting operation.

Vera and Jack escape and make it within one minute to the Air Force Jet with the other elephants boarded. Moe is there waiting for him and he bids Vera farewell.

It is a nice scene to see Vera get on board and see all the elephants. Jack tells Moe about the saying that an Elephant never forgets, but he says you can never forget an elephant. He then finds in his pocket the red squishy ball that Vera plopped in there before getting on the jet.

Jack said to Vera, you got me to a better place, and I will do the same for you. The screen shows that his fiancee married someone else and his mother is managing their business. He never did finish his book tour and did a book about his journey with Vera.

The music in the movie is by Los Lobos, Curtis Wright and The Staple Singers. The credits mentioned working with the American Humane Association and USDA Forest Service.

There are parts to this movie that my children are not interested in, they watch for the elephant scenes. I thoroughly enjoy Larger Than Life and spend most of the time laughing at the comedic scenes that Bill Murray seems to enjoy playing. The way the elephant responds to him is a nice touch and you can tell they became friends in the movie.

This is a great family movie for a Sunday afternoon, or a nighttime flick for the whole gang after dinner. The music lifts my spirits and I felt sad and happy at the end of the movie when Vera went on the jet.

This is a movie I prefer over other ones that my son likes to watch. I would rather watch this than the Free Willy series. My five year old watched Part III again the other evening. Larger Than Life is more suited for youngsters of all ages and the theme is making friends with the elephant and kids learn that one can never forget an elephant.


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About the reviewer
Bonnie Sayers ()
Ranked #161
single parenting two teens on autism spectrum. Working out daily, Zumba & Bodybugg enthusiast.
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About this movie


Chaos ensues when Jack, a sardonic, greedy businessman, inherits a special prize from his estranged father - a giant pachyderm, Vera. To profit from the score, Jack must transport Vera cross-country to the highest bidder.
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Director: Howard Franklin
Release Date: 1996
MPAA Rating: G
DVD Release Date: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (February 12, 2008)
Runtime: 1hr 37min
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