“Last Call at Murray’s”, which made its Los Angeles debut at the Pasadena International Film Festival 2016, is a wonder-filled allegorical tale that takes place in what could be called an average man’s ‘”purgatory”; the local bar. Cleverly written and directed, this is a film you will want to watch over and over again. “Last call at Murray’s” has many levels of truth about our human condition, joys, fears, regrets, and hopes layered beneath its surface and each character of this magnificent ensemble delivers them with “straight pocket” accuracy.
Murray’s is a small town mountain bar whose clientele has dwindled. A no smoking ordinance has recently been established to boot. Ergo, it is time for Murray’s to close and tonight will be its final “last call”. But as a man makes plans, sometimes the mysterious Jackalope steps in to shake things up a bit. On Murray’s last night, a blizzard blows in and shuts the town down. The few regulars and several nearby travelers who happen into Murray’s bar for safety will have to get more than cozy till the storm passes.
These quarantined characters are now forced to wait it out, and while doing so, a comical yet heartwarming purging ensues as one helps another to reach a new understanding in this one-night “purgatory” of self-discovery. The major appeal of “Last Call at Murray’s” is in the multidimensional, simple yet complicated, juxtaposition of stereotypes. You can not assume anything here. Not only are the characters diverse, each character’s journey thoroughly explores the emotional territory of their current social state, allowing for unilateral change. In this grownup playground of group therapy and mid-life subjects, there is plenty of adult humor, sexual innuendo, karaoke, and moral resolve to go around. We fall in love with these characters and the actors who play them. The mixture of comedy and tragedy along with the many metaphors buried within will at times make your jaw drop unexpectedly; brilliant!
“Last Call at Murray’s” is filled with refreshing points to view. This can only be accredited to the crafty writing of Brian Beatty and Betsy Morris; the very insightful- humorous direction of Linda Palmer; and the handsome/beautiful talented cast lead by Michael Gross, John Savage, and Paula Jai Parker. The cinematography, music, editing, and set design all perfectly feed the subject. “Last Call at Murray’s” draws you in and holds you tight, from the title song on the Jukebox along with the eight ball sitting off center on the pool table, to the Jackalope’s twinkling eye and wry smile during the final credits.
“Last Call at Murray’s” would make a great series if it were not the last call.
Rated R: for Language and adult situations.
Director: Linda Palmer
Writers: Brian Beatty, Betsy Morris
Stars: Michael Gross, John Savage, Paula Jai Parker