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Featuring icons like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, and covering films like Animal House , Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters , the behind-the-scenes story of the comedy misfits who ruled '80s Hollywood and the beloved films that made them famous Wild and Crazy Guys opens in 1978 with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray taking bad Featuring icons like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, and covering films like Animal House , Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters , the behind-the-scenes story of the comedy misfits who ruled '80s Hollywood and the beloved films that made them famous Wild and Crazy Guys opens in 1978 with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray taking bad-tempered (and slightly pathetic) swings at each other backstage at Saturday Night Live, and closes 21 years later with the two doing a skit in the same venue, poking fun at each other, their illustrious careers, triumphs and prat falls. In between, Nick de Semlyen takes us on a trip through the tumultuous '80s, delving behind the scenes of movies such as Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, and dozens more. Chronicling the off-screen, larger-than-life antics of Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Belushi, et al, it's got drugs, sex, punch-ups, webbed toes, and Bill Murray being pushed into a swimming pool by Hunter S. Thompson, while tied to a lawn chair. What's not to like? Based on candid interviews from the stars themselves, as well as those in their immediate orbit, Wild and Crazy Guys is a fantastic insider account of the friendships, feuds, triumphs, and disasters experienced by these iconic funnymen, and reveals the hidden history behind the most fertile period ever for screen comedy.


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Featuring icons like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, and covering films like Animal House , Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters , the behind-the-scenes story of the comedy misfits who ruled '80s Hollywood and the beloved films that made them famous Wild and Crazy Guys opens in 1978 with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray taking bad Featuring icons like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, and covering films like Animal House , Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters , the behind-the-scenes story of the comedy misfits who ruled '80s Hollywood and the beloved films that made them famous Wild and Crazy Guys opens in 1978 with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray taking bad-tempered (and slightly pathetic) swings at each other backstage at Saturday Night Live, and closes 21 years later with the two doing a skit in the same venue, poking fun at each other, their illustrious careers, triumphs and prat falls. In between, Nick de Semlyen takes us on a trip through the tumultuous '80s, delving behind the scenes of movies such as Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, and dozens more. Chronicling the off-screen, larger-than-life antics of Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Belushi, et al, it's got drugs, sex, punch-ups, webbed toes, and Bill Murray being pushed into a swimming pool by Hunter S. Thompson, while tied to a lawn chair. What's not to like? Based on candid interviews from the stars themselves, as well as those in their immediate orbit, Wild and Crazy Guys is a fantastic insider account of the friendships, feuds, triumphs, and disasters experienced by these iconic funnymen, and reveals the hidden history behind the most fertile period ever for screen comedy.

30 review for Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    4.5 stars I can't remember the last time I read a nonfiction book all in one day. I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised I practically devoured this one as I love behind the scenes pop culture stuff like this and anything 1980s related automatically peaks my interest. I couldn't believe how many things I learned from the book considering how much of my head is already full with random celebrity/tv-film industry tidbits. (I'm the person you want on your trivia team because I always bring my A g 4.5 stars I can't remember the last time I read a nonfiction book all in one day. I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised I practically devoured this one as I love behind the scenes pop culture stuff like this and anything 1980s related automatically peaks my interest. I couldn't believe how many things I learned from the book considering how much of my head is already full with random celebrity/tv-film industry tidbits. (I'm the person you want on your trivia team because I always bring my A game for the entertainment portions.) So basically this is a good read for those who have a casual interest in the topic and also the die-hard pop culture fans. The book follows the careers of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Steve Martin with much of the focus taking place during the 1980s which was when most of the careers were at their highest point. There's a ton of good behind the scenes info of the movies and tv shows they were a part of as well as projects that each person was close to working on but in the end a deal wasn't made. It was particularly interesting to see just how many films originally had John Belushi as the first choice but because of his death ended up going to another actor. And while much has been written about classic films such as Animal House and Caddyshack, this book manages to provide details not just about hits but also the pretty crappy ones most of us haven't thought about in ages like Neighbors and Nothing but Trouble. The author also manages to provide a good look into the personalities of each person featured as well as what others have to say about what it was like working with them. I really can't say enough good things about this book as it was a terrific read. If the subject matter interests you, for sure pick this one up! Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    We all know Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop and Groundhog Day, right? Well how about Doctor Detroit, Nothing But Trouble and Oh Heavenly Dog? In this lively publication, Nick de Semlyen takes a look at the comedy stars that ruled Hollywood in the 80s, exploring the hits that made their name and the flops they'd rather forget. The book tells us a lot about the personalities of these actors and how they all got along with one another. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were best pals, and we discover how We all know Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop and Groundhog Day, right? Well how about Doctor Detroit, Nothing But Trouble and Oh Heavenly Dog? In this lively publication, Nick de Semlyen takes a look at the comedy stars that ruled Hollywood in the 80s, exploring the hits that made their name and the flops they'd rather forget. The book tells us a lot about the personalities of these actors and how they all got along with one another. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were best pals, and we discover how Aykroyd was crushed by his friend's untimely death. Chevy Chase seemed to rub everybody the wrong way and even came to blows with Bill Murray at a Saturday Night Live show. John Candy was the most popular, bringing all kinds of Hollywood royalty back to his house for parties that would go on for days. De Semlyen has talked to many of the major players and the book is full of fascinating behind the scenes knowledge. I had no idea what an unhappy shoot Groundhog Day was, or how Eddie Murphy and director John Landis fought on the set of Coming to America. Steve Martin gives a captivating account of a strange visit to Stanley Kubrick's house and Rick Moranis reveals his reasons for quitting Hollywood. It's a pacy, entertaining read, packed with rich insight and juicy anecdotes. De Semlyen admits that not all of the gang's material has aged well, "but there is no denying that their vast ambition, raw talent, and total disregard for the rules combined to create a movement that was beloved, influential, and truly special." If you remember the 80s comedy heyday as fondly as I do, you'll enjoy this book immensely.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    In Wild and Crazy Guys, author Nick de Semlyen takes a look at several of the comedy mega-stars of the 1980s and the roles they played in both the film and television industry. Well, we’ve finally made it to the 2020s, which makes 1980 forty years ago. While you sit back and digest that fact, let me just list some about the movie classics that will be hurtling towards middle age in the next decade: Ghostbusters, Blues Brothers, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Beverly Hills Cop, The Jerk, Uncle Buck. In Wild and Crazy Guys, author Nick de Semlyen takes a look at several of the comedy mega-stars of the 1980s and the roles they played in both the film and television industry. Well, we’ve finally made it to the 2020s, which makes 1980 forty years ago. While you sit back and digest that fact, let me just list some about the movie classics that will be hurtling towards middle age in the next decade: Ghostbusters, Blues Brothers, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Beverly Hills Cop, The Jerk, Uncle Buck. That said, despite what that ol’ trickster nostalgia may have you believe, guys like Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy were certainly not infallible. Do you remember “Oh, Heavenly Dog”? How about “Nothing But Trouble”? Maybe “The Golden Child”? THOSE movies were both critical and commercial flops. Nick de Semlyen digs deep to truly expose all aspects of the careers of those mentioned above; warts and all. Having been only six years old by the time 1990 arrived, I only really remember getting caught up in the Ghostbusters hysteria in real-time, so my knowledge of the 80s is somewhat limited. While I would eventually go back and watch a few of the biggest movies of the decade years later as an adult, I was not aware of much of the behind-the-scenes fighting and controversies that made up much of these guys’ careers. Sure, I knew Chevy Chase was an asshole, but that seems to be common knowledge (for more on that, check out Live from New York: An Oral History of Saturday Night Live). Thanks to de Semlyen’s rigorous research coupled with access to many of the subjects in the book itself, I learned so much. For example: -John Candy’s desire to branch into dramatic acting shortly before his death; -Just how many iconic roles were written for John Belushi prior to his passing (Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters for one – hard to imagine anyone but Murray in that role); -Eddie Murphy’s identity crisis where he could not decide if he wanted to be portrayed as either a comedic or a serious dramatic/action star leading to on-set fights with directors; -Steve Martin’s desire to be accepted critically rather than just commercially leading to feuds with critics like Roger Ebert. -Bill Murray’s self-imposed sabbatical from Hollywood following the failure of a passion project. -The reasons behind Rick Moranis leaving Hollywood and the roles he would turn down before exiting. I could go on and on but I don’t want to ruin the book for potential readers. Even what I list above is only scratching the surface of those subjects. I will say that more than anything, this book made me love John Candy even more than I already do. His story is particularly heartbreaking – he truly seemed like the nicest guy in Hollywood. For those that lived through the era, you may not learn as much as I did if you were truly plugged in to the pop culture of the time, but it made for a quick read that I squeezed in over the holidays between playing video games and eating my weight in food. I realize that it was not the focus of the book, but I would have enjoyed learning about some of the ladies of comedy during the 80s, but given Hollywood’s sexist views at the time in which women couldn’t carry big budget pictures (and let’s be honest, it hasn’t completely gone away some forty years later), there may not have been much data to mine.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I can’t remember ever reading a non-fiction book that was this funny and engaging. I had a great time reading about the exploits of Bill Murray, Steve Martin, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, and Eddie Murphy. This book definitely made me want to look up some of their sketches from the early days of SNL and watch some of their movies (Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Three Amigos, The Jerk, Trading Places, The Blues Brothers, and Groundhog Day are just a few of the movies I can’t remember ever reading a non-fiction book that was this funny and engaging. I had a great time reading about the exploits of Bill Murray, Steve Martin, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, and Eddie Murphy. This book definitely made me want to look up some of their sketches from the early days of SNL and watch some of their movies (Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Three Amigos, The Jerk, Trading Places, The Blues Brothers, and Groundhog Day are just a few of the movies discussed in this book).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Brunnett

    Loved this book! I am a huge Steve Martin fan, which was my motivation for reading this book. This peek into the background of the popular 80s comedians read like a fiction book at times. Interesting to see how careers changed over the years and the behind the scenes squabbles and disagreements. Highly recommended for those who grew up on the movies of these actors.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This is an often-fun, often-maddening history of the careers of a group of comedians in the 1980s (with significant spilling over into the 1970s and 1990s, too). Being a young Gen Xer / old Millennial sort of girl, I enjoyed the book more as it moved forward and I was more familiar with the films. Animal House and Caddyshack weren’t for kids, but Ghostbusters and Three Amigos sure were, and I definitely liked reading about the production of those films. There is no denying that fun. That said, I This is an often-fun, often-maddening history of the careers of a group of comedians in the 1980s (with significant spilling over into the 1970s and 1990s, too). Being a young Gen Xer / old Millennial sort of girl, I enjoyed the book more as it moved forward and I was more familiar with the films. Animal House and Caddyshack weren’t for kids, but Ghostbusters and Three Amigos sure were, and I definitely liked reading about the production of those films. There is no denying that fun. That said, I did find the book frustrating, mostly because I so badly wanted it to zoom out a little and give me more context, more analysis. It stayed at the level of an Entertainment Weekly magazine profile of these men’s careers — and even that I questioned sometimes. The focus is on a specific group of comedy actors from the 1980s, ostensibly because they were SNL / SCTV alumni: John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, John Candy, and Rick Moranis. Why are these our “wild and crazy guys?” They all have some connection to emergent sketch comedy TV shows of the 1970s, but so do others. I found myself wondering hey, why not Martin Short — who does sort of unavoidably come up in the discussion of Three Amigos — or Billy Crystal? When, in the epilogue, the author refers reverently to Bill Murray’s successful decades-long transition from TV comedy to serious actor, I thought ... and what about Robin Williams? Or Tom Hanks, for that matter? All of these people certainly made films in the same ecosystem as our favored characters (sometimes they co-starred with them), so it seemed a little bit of a haphazard focus. Sometimes I wished we were getting more insight into the history of comedy to help us appreciate these men’s contributions more. At some point, a producer claims that SNL invented a new comedy style — that before that, it had been “Bob Hope” comedy, and that TV’s M*A*S*H was the transition between the comedy of the two. I was drawn in by this statement and found it compelling ... until I started to think about it. What about Mel Brooks? What about Monty Python? What about a whole tradition of countercultural comedy? SNL did not, really, come out of nowhere. Some context would help me see what was unique about these men’s careers. There also just isn’t much discussion of the craft of comedy at all. Eddie Murphy is presented as having a very special, charismatic style of stand-up, but aside from some vague references to his fearlessness, we don’t learn much about *how* his style was distinctive. And I was curious! When the author mentions that Chris Rock went to see Beverly Hills Cop three times on its opening day, I wanted to know why. What did Rock see in Murphy? How did Murphy differ from previous black comedians-turned-movie-stars (say, Richard Pryor) — or, for that matter, white comedians-turned-movie-stars (say, Steve Martin or Robin Williams)? It may be that the author just wanted to dutifully chronicle the careers of his 1980s faves, and okay, that’s not the book I wanted, but it’s still an interesting read. But there were some moments when I wondered whether the chronicle itself had been attended to with journalistic due diligence. At one point, a late 1970s film starring John Travolta comes up, and the author says it was such a flop that Travolta’s career wouldn’t recover until Pulp Fiction in 1996. This jumped out at me. Even I, a moderate film fan, know offhand that Pulp Fiction came out in 1994. And sure, it is a small detail not essential to the book’s main premise ... but it affected my trust in the author and his editors. I mean, Pulp Fiction is not exactly an obscure movie. Did no one fact check this thing? What else is wrong that I wouldn’t know to notice? (If I were an even more nerdy moderate film buff, I would further point out that the whole Pulp Fiction career revival claim is shaky anyway, as Travolta starred in the box office smash comedy Look Who’s Talking trilogy in the late 1980s/ early 1990s.) All this obsessive nitpicking to say, a fun read, but pretty lightweight. Recommended for fans of the films, but no big statements about comedy here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    When I was growing up, my family adopted two dogs and we named them Jake and Elwood. Decades later, when my brother and his wife decided to get married in Chicago, they wanted to have the ceremony at the Triple Rock Baptist Church. That didn't pan out, so they decided to have a civil ceremony in the middle of Daley Plaza - the scene of the big climax at the end of The Blues Brothers. I could go on with a list of ways that the comedy mavericks of the '80s influenced my childhood and my life, but When I was growing up, my family adopted two dogs and we named them Jake and Elwood. Decades later, when my brother and his wife decided to get married in Chicago, they wanted to have the ceremony at the Triple Rock Baptist Church. That didn't pan out, so they decided to have a civil ceremony in the middle of Daley Plaza - the scene of the big climax at the end of The Blues Brothers. I could go on with a list of ways that the comedy mavericks of the '80s influenced my childhood and my life, but instead you can just take my word for it that there's a special place in my heart for all of the actors discussed in this book - John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Dave Thomas. Their work has given me so much joy that if a stranger said "I am Gumby, Dammit!" I'd be amused for hours. Any reference to something that I hold so dear will automatically entertain me. For me, the real entertainment value in this book is all of the reminders of things I hadn't thought of for years. I learned the most about the SCTV guys (Candy, Moranis, and Thomas), just because I didn't know as much about their backgrounds. Strangebrew is a film that's on my classic comedy list, and I own Bob & Doug McKenzie action figures, but otherwise I didn't know much about them and that was the most informative part of this book for me. As far as the SNL alums and Steve Martin, there wasn't much behind-the-scenes stuff that I didn't already know. However, the reminders of things I had forgotten, or hadn't watched in years was a lot of fun. It should have taken me far less than three weeks to read this, but it was delayed because I kept putting the book down and going to YouTube to watch the music video that Paul McCartney did for Spies Like Us because I had completely forgotten about it. A similar interruption came when the author reminded me of the classic video for Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al. I hadn't seen that in years and had to go back and re-watch. The author doesn't just talk about the classics either. I had forgotten all about the Belushi/Aykroyd film Neighbors. There were so many references in this book, it was a nice trip down memory lane. The real fun here is nostalgia, so I don't know how this book would land for a reader who didn't grow up with SNL and the same films that I did. There's a pretty niche audience who are going to enjoy this book, and I am definitely one of them. If you are too, send me a friend request on Goodreads because we'd probably get along pretty well. Thank you to Penguin's (soon-to-be-former) First To Read program for providing me with a free digital advance copy of this book for review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James Hartley

    This isn't as cool as it thinks it is, and the central thesis doesn't really hold up, but it's still a great read. You have to buy into the whole "movies as mythical history" thing, or at least swallow it as you go, but it's a good potted history of some of the biggest Hollywood stars and movies of the 80's. If you like Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Caddyshack, Animal House and Groundhog Day, you'll find something here that's interesting. Reads like a long Empire article but it's well-crafted This isn't as cool as it thinks it is, and the central thesis doesn't really hold up, but it's still a great read. You have to buy into the whole "movies as mythical history" thing, or at least swallow it as you go, but it's a good potted history of some of the biggest Hollywood stars and movies of the 80's. If you like Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Caddyshack, Animal House and Groundhog Day, you'll find something here that's interesting. Reads like a long Empire article but it's well-crafted and speeds along like the best of the films it describes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jay Gabler

    Thank you Random House for the free book. Did I love this book? Obviously I loved this book. It's a comprehensive chronicle of the Hollywood movies starring a cadre of comedians who helped define the decade I grew up in. These guys will always be larger than life to me, and their work will always have a special place in my heart. The book is highly readable, full of fantastic anecdotes and concise character studies. All that said, it does fall short of its subtitle's lofty promise: the book is hea Thank you Random House for the free book. Did I love this book? Obviously I loved this book. It's a comprehensive chronicle of the Hollywood movies starring a cadre of comedians who helped define the decade I grew up in. These guys will always be larger than life to me, and their work will always have a special place in my heart. The book is highly readable, full of fantastic anecdotes and concise character studies. All that said, it does fall short of its subtitle's lofty promise: the book is heavy on great stories, light on analysis. There's still a book to be written about the fundamental structure of a Hollywood system that banked on eccentric genius. At its best, you got Ghostbusters. At its worst, you got the dozens and dozens of very expensive and very forgettable movies that this history also reminds you about. And what you usually didn't get, still typically don't get, are films that center women and people of color. That's another book, and I do hope someone writes it soon. I'll be the first reader.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Running from the 70s through to the early 90s, this follows the “larger than life story” of a group of comedians (all men) who came out of the TV comedy shows and ruled Hollywood through the 80s. Taking in the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Candy, among many others, it chronicles the events off-screen that led to the often genius work on screen. As a huge fan of this cinema period (I grew up on most of these comedies and they beca Running from the 70s through to the early 90s, this follows the “larger than life story” of a group of comedians (all men) who came out of the TV comedy shows and ruled Hollywood through the 80s. Taking in the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Candy, among many others, it chronicles the events off-screen that led to the often genius work on screen. As a huge fan of this cinema period (I grew up on most of these comedies and they became my touchstones), I found this to be a great read. Taking a warts and all approach (though most still come across as likeable people), this explores the friendships and fueds, the arrogance and the drug taking and the incredible self belief that kept them going. My one gripe is how much ground is covered - de Semlyen deals with the behind the scenes of most films in the question but doesn’t go into enough depth for me, though if he’d tried the “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” approach (the book is compared to it in the blurb), it would have meant a volume two or three times thicker. That issue aside, if you loved the time period, the films or the comedians in question, I’d say this was an essential read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jon Koebrick

    Wild and Crazy Guys is an unexpected treasure I would not have discovered but for Goodreads. The book traces the careers and personal stories of many of the biggest comedic movie stars of the 1980s. As someone growing up in the 80s I saw nearly all the movies discussed in the book including the clunkers. Rick Moranis and John Candy always come off as very good humans. Steve Martin is simply talented with great depth. A great book for fans of Saturday Night Live in the early years.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    "That time in the 1980's, when a bunch of very silly men were given very large sums of money and allowed to go play." This line from the epilogue of Nick de Semlyen's "Wild and Crazy Guys" captures the essence of the entire tome. It's the story of a group of male comedians - Belushi, Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Rick Moranis, & John Candy - who changed the worlds of cinematic and television comedy from the mid-70's through the 1980's. The book begins with a somew "That time in the 1980's, when a bunch of very silly men were given very large sums of money and allowed to go play." This line from the epilogue of Nick de Semlyen's "Wild and Crazy Guys" captures the essence of the entire tome. It's the story of a group of male comedians - Belushi, Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Rick Moranis, & John Candy - who changed the worlds of cinematic and television comedy from the mid-70's through the 1980's. The book begins with a somewhat infamous fight that Chase and Murray got into backstage at SNL, a physical brawl that Belushi and Ackroyd found themselves on the fringes of, and which sets the tone for how seriously these men took their comedy. The book follows their heydays from SNL and SCTV, then leads into their inevitable exits from those shows, seemingly too narrow to contain their talent. From there, each one makes the leap to the movies, with wildly varying results. There are the blockbusters (Animal House, Ghostbusters, Vacation, Parenthood, Beverly Hills Cop) and the disasters (Continental Divide, 1941, The Razor's Edge, Oh Heavenly Dog, Nothing But Trouble, Pennies from Heaven, Harlem Nights). Of course, we learn much - or for many of us, have stories confirmed - about the personalities of these comedy legends, on and off set. Chase is petulant and arrogant, never feeling a script is worthy of his talent, while never seemingly able to actually inhabit a character as an actor. Belushi is all id, and yet wants to be taken seriously, like a Brando or Nicholson. Ackroyd is the odd bird who believes the ghost of Mama Cass not only inhabits his California mansion but thinks the situation merits a screenplay. Eddie Murphy is all ambition, eschewing drugs and partying because he wants to devote everything to his craft, lest he becomes another Elvis Presley: washed-up, fat, or dead. Martin is the sweet guy eager to tread new ground as an actor until he discovers his sweet spot in family-friendly comedies and finds his more artistically challenging opportunities as a writer, musician, and art connoisseur. And then there's Murray, the one wild card in the bunch who seems to have never lost his edge, but actually sharpened it. While it's safe to say that Murray and Martin are the two who have seen the most late-in-life success, it is Murray who has been the least compromising of them all, following his muse and taking a substantial amount of box office and critical praise along with him for the ride. Of course, we lose Belushi too soon, his overdose a sobering lesson for many of the men in the book as well as others in Hollywood, including Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, who were partying with Belushi just the night before his death. John Candy, also, leaves us too soon. Rick Moranis decides he's done and walks away from Hollywood to raise a family and enjoy his royalties. Insights into the personal lives of the actors reveal Chase's obstinance, Murphy's earnestness, Martin's insecurities, Ackroyd's oddities, and Murray's uncanny ability to be a generous sweetheart and gigantic pain in the ass, often in the same moment. The book ends with the telling of the story of "Groundhog Day", the Harold Ramis-directed film that serves as an appropriate bookend to the rambunctious comedies of the 1980's. "Groundhog Day" showed maturity and new direction, and the ongoing battle between Ramis and Murray over the tone of the film (Ramis wanted light romance, Murray wanted existential angst) points toward where cinematic comedy was headed next. The author gathered plenty of backstage and on-set anecdotes, quotes from costars and collaborators, and does a fine job capturing the highlights and lowlights of these men's careers and lives. For anyone who grew up in the 70's and 80's, it's a great trip down memory lane, avoiding getting into too much minuate (see previous 600+ page tomes on the history of SNL) while hitting many of the moments in their careers we're likely most interested in. Mostly, the book made me want to go back and watch these actors' films, both the classics and the misfires. I can now do so with a better understanding of what made them work and where they went so misguidedly wrong, respectively. Except "Oh, Heavenly Dog". I don't need a book to spell that one out for me. And here's a sweet bonus: The audiobook version is read by Curtis Armstrong, who you may remember from "Moonlighting" or more likely "Revenge of the Nerds". He does a fine, smooth job with the read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Keen

    2.5 Stars! I grew up watching so many of these guys in movies throughout the 80s and to a lesser extent the 90s, some of them good, a handful of classics, many of them awful though most probably utterly forgettable. Growing up in the UK we weren’t exposed to SNL so most of these guys were recognised as actors first, which is amusing considering many of them can’t really act at all. This documents the various trajectories of various North American comedians (the word "comedian", sometimes being us 2.5 Stars! I grew up watching so many of these guys in movies throughout the 80s and to a lesser extent the 90s, some of them good, a handful of classics, many of them awful though most probably utterly forgettable. Growing up in the UK we weren’t exposed to SNL so most of these guys were recognised as actors first, which is amusing considering many of them can’t really act at all. This documents the various trajectories of various North American comedians (the word "comedian", sometimes being used a little too freely). These guys emerged from “Saturday Night Live” and to a lesser extent Canada’s “Second City Television”. From my reading of this, Rick Moranis, John Candy and Bill Murray come across as the closest to the most relatable and likable. The likes of Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase and Jim Belushi sound truly unbearable and most of the rest seem pretty forgettable. We hear many stories of excess, success, self-indulgence and self-delusion and a blinding amount of overwhelming mediocrity. This book reminds us how huge a part, luck plays in Hollywood. Talent comes into it of course, but not as much as luck or connections. There were many times I was struck by a “Oh I remember that!” and “Jeez! Whatever happened to them?” I learned some random and memorable stuff like apparently Eddie Murphy made Paramount studios more than $1.5 billion from his first seven movies (and I am sure most of that went to really worthwhile causes). And that was back in the 80s/early 90s. Bill Murray’s six month stint studying philosophy and history at the Sorbonne in Paris, which was impressive, then there was the horrendous case of three people being killed (two were beheaded) on the set of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” by a helicopter, which led to a massive and protracted lawsuit. There is a lot of he said, she said in here and hyperbole is never too far away and some of this did leave me cringing, the descriptions of loud mouth brats acting like children and getting away with it may sound cool, fun and krazy with a capital K, when you are young and impressionable, but it gets a little old once you reach adulthood. Lines like “He was the biggest deal in town” etc certainly don’t help either. This is certainly an easy enough read, but an easy read doesn’t always mean a good read. This is heavily reliant on the work and interviews of many others. Cutting and pasting isn’t a bad thing per se, but when done for the duration of the whole book, after a while it gives a real fractured and detached feel to the book. I suppose I enjoyed this, if only for the nostalgia aspect, without doubt the author’s warmth and enthusiasm for his subject comes across strongly, but I really wasn’t a fan of the writing style at all. It had some interesting trivia and background to the actors and films etc, but there was also some slack proof reading and factual inaccuracies, which jarred. In the end just like many of the actors it describes, this book was pretty shallow, low on humour and not quite as good as you think it might be.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    You can tell Semlyen really admires the comedians he writes about and that he did tons of research to give readers as true and authentic a picture of them as possible. It's also a fantastic guide to awesomely good and so-bad-they're-good movies from the late 70s and 80s that I constantly stopped my reading to either watch in full or find clips of online. It's an engaging read in the way that gossipy insider news about pretty much anything in Hollywood is and I really like how well it shows the v You can tell Semlyen really admires the comedians he writes about and that he did tons of research to give readers as true and authentic a picture of them as possible. It's also a fantastic guide to awesomely good and so-bad-they're-good movies from the late 70s and 80s that I constantly stopped my reading to either watch in full or find clips of online. It's an engaging read in the way that gossipy insider news about pretty much anything in Hollywood is and I really like how well it shows the very different temperaments that each "guy" has and how that affected their choices and where they ended up. Where it fails a bit for me is that I never really felt like I just had to keep reading. I was always happy to put it aside and watch the movies it was talking about. How can a book so full of gossip, feuds, addiction, death, insane lives, redemption, and so much more, fail to keep my attention? I don't even have an answer to that. I know it's a bit that I was annoyed by the constant presaging of the bad things that were to befall certain comedians, but that's just a personal peeve and it's not something particularly big within the telling of the tale. In the end, this is a nice information dump for a fan of the era's many and varied comedian-driven films and a good introduction for those of us who were too young to enjoy them originally but still manage to appreciate them nonetheless.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Overview of the careers of some of the big 80's comedy stars - mainly those from SNL and SCTV. As someone who likes reading about the making of movies, I enjoyed this book. The reader gets a glimpse into how a movie is conceived & greenlighted & cast. If you are looked for detailed biographies, this is not the book you for. It's more a broad outline of the era with a lot of funny anecdotes included. Some stars come across a lot better than others! -An autograph card Steve Martin handed out to fa Overview of the careers of some of the big 80's comedy stars - mainly those from SNL and SCTV. As someone who likes reading about the making of movies, I enjoyed this book. The reader gets a glimpse into how a movie is conceived & greenlighted & cast. If you are looked for detailed biographies, this is not the book you for. It's more a broad outline of the era with a lot of funny anecdotes included. Some stars come across a lot better than others! -An autograph card Steve Martin handed out to fans during this period, as a way to avoid awkward protracted encounters, read, "This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny". -One morning as Eddie Murphy stepped out of his Porsche in NYC, his foot came down into a curl of dog crap. Gingerly taking off his expensive, now-besmirched Italian shoes, he left them on the street and walked on. Another pair was hurriedly couriered direct to his feet. -We went from people coming up to us saying, 'Excuse me, big fan of SCTV. Really enjoyed your parody of Bob Hope' to people raising their fists in the air and going EEEUURRGGHH! It was kind of scary, because our fans went from being smart people to violent morons." - Rick Moranis -It's going to be like acting with a kid or a dog. You've got to be good every take, because the one take he's great, that's the one we're going to print." - Walter Hill talking to Nick Nolte about Eddie Murphy

  16. 5 out of 5

    A.M. Pfeffer

    Putting aside the mixed emotions that lionizing cinematic comedies of the 80's can bring about these days, the subtitle of this book references how a specific band of mavericks changed Hollywood forever, and well, this book proves that fact exceedingly well. It also does so by eliciting a wonderful mix of nostalgia and unearthing a torrent of never before heard anecdotes about said Wild and Crazy Guys. Great book! Finishing the book prompted me to watch L.A. Story again as well. Great movie! All Putting aside the mixed emotions that lionizing cinematic comedies of the 80's can bring about these days, the subtitle of this book references how a specific band of mavericks changed Hollywood forever, and well, this book proves that fact exceedingly well. It also does so by eliciting a wonderful mix of nostalgia and unearthing a torrent of never before heard anecdotes about said Wild and Crazy Guys. Great book! Finishing the book prompted me to watch L.A. Story again as well. Great movie! All of these actors were unique individuals, and de Semlyen really dives deep into their respective stories. It would be easy to lump them all together and be done with it, but they were (are) all talented in different ways. They suffered for their art in different ways. They made similar life decisions in different ways -- and a few of them (Candy and Belushi) never lived long enough to see how those decisions played out. You liked their brand of comedy, you didn't like it...whatever the case, their impact on Hollywood and on the American zeitgeist was massive. Still is. And their behind the scene stories are fascinating because they weren't really the characters they portrayed or the stories they concocted. They were (are) real people with amazing talents that altered the course of how comedy is consumed by the masses. They were pioneers. Stirring stories about pioneers are always awesome. Great book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Ward

    Wild and Crazy Guys: How The Comedy Mavericks of the '80's Changed Hollywood Forever by Nick De Semlyen (Crown Archetype 2019) (791.43028) (3389).This is a trip! The phrase “wild and crazy guys” takes me straight back to my college days in the late Seventies. Whatever you were doing, everything stopped on Saturday nights from 11:30 until 1:00 in the morning. Nobody was going to miss the insanity that was “Saturday Night Live.” The stars – John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Steve Martin Wild and Crazy Guys: How The Comedy Mavericks of the '80's Changed Hollywood Forever by Nick De Semlyen (Crown Archetype 2019) (791.43028) (3389).This is a trip! The phrase “wild and crazy guys” takes me straight back to my college days in the late Seventies. Whatever you were doing, everything stopped on Saturday nights from 11:30 until 1:00 in the morning. Nobody was going to miss the insanity that was “Saturday Night Live.” The stars – John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Steve Martin – were the guys every young male wanted to be and to be with. Toss in the guys from SCTV (John Candy, Rick Moranis) and one star from SNL a few years later (Eddie Murphy), and you've got the whole crew our author based this book upon.Each chapter focuses on one of these six comedians. The book generally – and in great humor – recounts highlights from their careers, focusing on famous television sketches and movie roles.Here's an astonishing piece of trivia from the author:Remember in Animal House when Bluto (John Belushi) was on the ladder peeking in the window of the sorority house? Remember that the ladder slowly toppled away backwards with Bluto on it? The reason it fell was that Bluto's growing erection pushed him away from the building.I never knew that. Hmmm. My rating: 7/10, finished 9/11/19 (3389).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Muffin

    Almost audaciously inessential. Most of its stories have been told better elsewhere, but the book is also contains few stories - as has been mentioned ad nauseum, once Belushi died most of this crowd cleaned up their act and with the exception of Bill Murray spent the time period described in this book being rich and making a dozen or so movies, some of which were successes and some not. Bill Murray also did that, but he did so somewhat more idiosyncratically. The most interesting takeaways are Almost audaciously inessential. Most of its stories have been told better elsewhere, but the book is also contains few stories - as has been mentioned ad nauseum, once Belushi died most of this crowd cleaned up their act and with the exception of Bill Murray spent the time period described in this book being rich and making a dozen or so movies, some of which were successes and some not. Bill Murray also did that, but he did so somewhat more idiosyncratically. The most interesting takeaways are the book's interview with Rick Moranis, which shed little new insights on Moranis but are a nice reminder of Rick Moranis, and the details on Dan Aykroyd, who comes out of the book as the relatively rare guy not too destroyed by success. I am shocked that Mark Harris gave the book a positive quote because I think of Harris's books as specifically great at doing what this book is TERRIBLE at: using a handful of significant figures to discuss a wide range of fascinating trends in Hollywood. This book reads like an English class essay about My Favorite Comedy Stars. BTW of course it spends roughly all its time with men from the late 70s-early 90s. You knew that without my even mentioning it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kim Graham

    In true homage to the subject matter, "Wild and Crazy Guys" reads like a high budget behind the scenes movie. I picked up this book on a whim when I saw it at my library, and was not disappointed. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, movies like Trading Places, Ghostbusters, Planes Trains and Automobiles, and Christmas Vacation still hold a special place in my heart and my funny bone. Filled with big egos, bad habits, and bitchy movie critics, this book chronicles not only comedy legends like Steve Ma In true homage to the subject matter, "Wild and Crazy Guys" reads like a high budget behind the scenes movie. I picked up this book on a whim when I saw it at my library, and was not disappointed. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, movies like Trading Places, Ghostbusters, Planes Trains and Automobiles, and Christmas Vacation still hold a special place in my heart and my funny bone. Filled with big egos, bad habits, and bitchy movie critics, this book chronicles not only comedy legends like Steve Martin, John Candy, Eddie Murphy, and Bill Murray but also the behind the scenes geniuses like John Hughes and Ivan Reitman who helped bring these blockbusters to screen. I learned so many details didn't fully realize from this book. (Eddie Murphy was only 19 when he landed SNL?! John Belushi was partying with Robert DeNiro the night he OD'd?!) A must read!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Although I was born in the early 80's, I grew up watching Best of SNL tapes for 1975-1980 so I'm familiar with the comedians and a lot of their more popular projects. I loved getting an insider's view of their working relationships and friendships. It's obvious the author was granted close access to these famous comedians. I also learned a lot of cool trivia about some of my favorite movies. I hadn't thought about how disco would have been popular when the Blues Brothers movie was made. I just a Although I was born in the early 80's, I grew up watching Best of SNL tapes for 1975-1980 so I'm familiar with the comedians and a lot of their more popular projects. I loved getting an insider's view of their working relationships and friendships. It's obvious the author was granted close access to these famous comedians. I also learned a lot of cool trivia about some of my favorite movies. I hadn't thought about how disco would have been popular when the Blues Brothers movie was made. I just assumed that all the musicians involved were hugely popular at the time. I didn't realize how much Chevy Chase struggled with movie roles following his SNL success because the movies I'm familiar with were already classics, and I always wondered what happened to Rick Moranis. Great book to read if you are already somewhat familiar with the comedians and their work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This book did not compel me to sit down and read it all in one sitting, there was too much information to absorb to devour it that way. I did find the writing style engaging and I always enjoy “behind the scenes” details. What particularly fascinated me was the process behind the movies and how different some of our favorite comedy classics would have been if the actors the screenwriters had originally had it mind had actually been in the movie. A very interesting read for anyone who grew up wat This book did not compel me to sit down and read it all in one sitting, there was too much information to absorb to devour it that way. I did find the writing style engaging and I always enjoy “behind the scenes” details. What particularly fascinated me was the process behind the movies and how different some of our favorite comedy classics would have been if the actors the screenwriters had originally had it mind had actually been in the movie. A very interesting read for anyone who grew up watching SNL or SCTV and a must read for film students. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Goodreads.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Downward

    I've now read like 40 books on comedy from the 70s and 80s and I guess I'm finished with them. I know everything there is to know. the best part of this book is the focus on rick moranis and John candy, two people who don't really get enough love any more. pretty lightweight stuff here, but it's always nice and comforting the hear behind the scenes and biographical details about the films you grew up with and the people who created them. it's a nice detox from a poisonous world, a way to I've now read like 40 books on comedy from the 70s and 80s and I guess I'm finished with them. I know everything there is to know. the best part of this book is the focus on rick moranis and John candy, two people who don't really get enough love any more. pretty lightweight stuff here, but it's always nice and comforting the hear behind the scenes and biographical details about the films you grew up with and the people who created them. it's a nice detox from a poisonous world, a way to

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I really enjoyed reading this book having been a teenager and college student during the 80's. I appreciated that the author provided highlights of the good and the bad, the hits and the flops. And for most of these guys, there were many more flops. He gave interesting insight about the movies - some of these men wrote the screenplays while others were chosen, and very interesting to hear how the lead actors were not often the first choice and to think about who could have been in those roles, n I really enjoyed reading this book having been a teenager and college student during the 80's. I appreciated that the author provided highlights of the good and the bad, the hits and the flops. And for most of these guys, there were many more flops. He gave interesting insight about the movies - some of these men wrote the screenplays while others were chosen, and very interesting to hear how the lead actors were not often the first choice and to think about who could have been in those roles, now, after the fact, is hard to fathom. This was an easy and fun read, though keep in mind, if this book had a movie rating, it would be rated R.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    Another deviation from my usual types (I bought this for my husband for Father's Day) that I genuinely enjoyed. IMO Nick de Semlyen should consider writing biographies. He did a very good job of painting these actors as rounded humans, giving a good sense of their weaknesses without judging. I would LOVE to see an equivalent volume on female comedians. Another deviation from my usual types (I bought this for my husband for Father's Day) that I genuinely enjoyed. IMO Nick de Semlyen should consider writing biographies. He did a very good job of painting these actors as rounded humans, giving a good sense of their weaknesses without judging. I would LOVE to see an equivalent volume on female comedians.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Monckton

    I really enjoyed this book. And Netflix needs to get all the movies on a channel for us. There our a couple I’ve never seen and wanted to reference all of them. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars is because I thought the order was a little confusing. I wish it was one chapter per person or maybe per year and what they all did. There were times when I got lost for a second. But all and all it was amazing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    It was great fun to revisit the movies and interactions of this talented and funny group. I need to go back and watch some of them again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    Fascinating anecdotes that get less fascinating as they pile up and get repetitive.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Some great stories about the comedians involved. Some easily avoidable typos/errors detracted from ability to trust narrative. (Pulp Fiction was released in 1994 not 1996, In “Rushmore” Bill Murray’s character did not plunge into a pool fully dressed etc.) Doesn’t fully answer the question raised in title beyond anecdotes.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cher

    Fascinating topic comedy is such a difficult to conquer medium highly recommend this

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is a breezy, well-written pop culture history but I was left wanting a bit more. De Semlyen focuses on the careers of the six figures depicted in the cover, as well as John Candy and Rick Moranis, going into detail about the production of many of their biggest films. If you're fan enough of any of the movies so described to have watched a making-of documentary, you've probably already encountered a good amount of material covered here. What I really wanted out of this book was a point of vie This is a breezy, well-written pop culture history but I was left wanting a bit more. De Semlyen focuses on the careers of the six figures depicted in the cover, as well as John Candy and Rick Moranis, going into detail about the production of many of their biggest films. If you're fan enough of any of the movies so described to have watched a making-of documentary, you've probably already encountered a good amount of material covered here. What I really wanted out of this book was a point of view, some thesis statement about WHY these comedians were able to take the movie world by storm. Unfortunately, the closest De Semlyen gets to any sort of criticism – aside from editorializing about how bad Nothing but Trouble is – is by including snippets of reviews from the time. Obviously necessary for the context of the time for certain films, it feels unnecessary and repetitive to do it for EVERY film he mentions in detail. I also felt that the focus of the book was perhaps a bit too narrow. Aykroyd, Belushi, Candy, Chase, Martin, Moranis, Murphy and Martin (phew) certainly make up a huge chunk of the comedy output of the 1980s, but there were plenty of other figures and films who made an impact; many of whom the subjects paved the way for, but also plenty who were as equally groundbreaking. It would have been nice to hear about them, as well as more about the actual impact these figures had on the comedy culture at large, rather than the somewhat-meaningless box office numbers we inevitably get. I did learn a few things here and there and de Semlyen's prose strikes a good balance between conversational and authoritative (as does the narration by Curtis "Booger" Armstrong, whose own big 80s films aren't even alluded to) so this is easy to recommend as a broad overview of 80s comedy, but I'm not sure there's much here to recommend big fans of this material like myself.

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