Synopsis: The behind-the-scenes story of the iconic funnymen who ruled '80s Hollywood—Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Eddie Murphy—and the beloved films that made them stars, including "Animal House," "Caddyshack," and "Ghostbusters."
Review: Nick de Semlyen's "Wild and Crazy Guys" is a fun fact-filled book for some of the quintessential individuals who shaped the voice of comedy in the 80s and the subsequently influenced those making funny pictures today. Its a simple timeline: start when Bill Murray and Chevy Chase got into an altercation backstage at SNL in the late 70s and go through to the 2010s. As each year progresses, we bounce around to these funny men--Murray, Chase, Belushi, John Candy, and even Rick Moranis--and where their career is leading. Some passages heartbreaking, others triggering very SMH-worthy thoughts of 'how did they mess up a good thing.' Interviews with stars and filmmakers of the time--director John Landis, a rare talk with Murray, and co-stars of these guys like Dave Thomas. In the end, the book reads like looking up IMDb trivia. Some tidbits I had known before, others not so much. In fact, just as I got to the part about Murphy and Landis butting heads on "Coming to America," the news broke of Landis' son Max getting hit with several sexual assault accusations from former relationship partners. Then, I read more on the elder Landis and his "Twilight Zone: The Movie" manslaughter trial. I come to learn that after being acquitted, Landis had the jury come to a private advance screening of "Coming to America" as thanks. So when I read in this book that Murphy, who felt bad and wanted to help a friend with work, turned out to be an arrogant jerk and had to choke Landis out... well, let's just say you learn something new everyday. But I digress. The author does try to go deep, but given Landis' heavy involvement in the book (he, from what I recall, gets the most printed quotes), it makes you wonder if the glossy over of certain negative details was part of the deal to speak to the "Blues Brothers" director. Coincidentally, when the Max Landis news broke, a thought occurred to me: why not a book about the WOMEN of comedy who pioneered the way? Perhaps a sequel, Mr. de Semlyen--covering from Madeline Kahn and Gilda Radner through Tina Fey and Kristen Wig? If I have learned anything about comedy, it is that the genre is constantly evolving. The latest evolution is female funny. Let's get wild and crazy about the hilarious women next time.