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R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 11/07/1996,

Larger than Life

The strongest comedian here is Tai, a four-ton elephant who not only carries the heavy load of her straight man, Bill Murray, but supplies this lumbering road movie with its central metaphor. Originally slated for release in May, Larger Than Life has tried to piggyback on Matthew McConaughey's stardom by adding recently filmed scenes in which his character, a psychotic trucker, torments Murray's motivational-speaker-turned-elephant-tamer. But this only adds more dead weight to an already bloated film. Murray sleepwalks through his trademark role of a jerk who learns how to be a nice guy, this time as a result of transporting his late father's inheritance, Vera (Tai), from Maryland to Los Angeles via train and semi-truck. Of course, Vera keeps sticking her trunk in where it isn't wanted, literally consuming tons of candy and stepping on Murray's cellular phone. Ha ha.

Director Howard Franklin (Quick Change) seems to think he's above this dumbo project, cowardly parading his star's disinterest as though it were a joke. Larger Than Life might have worked as a standard-issue kids' movie, but even the most undiscriminating audience would deserve better than this sort of smug insincerity. At the Copley Place, the Fresh Pond, and the Allston and in the suburbs.

-- Rob Nelson