The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Man Who Knew Too Little Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Jon Amiel directed this satire on mistaken-identity thrillers and the spy genre, scripted by Robert Farrar, Tim John, and Oliver Butcher from Farrar's unpublished novel, Watch That Man. In the female lead, Joanne Whalley returned to films after a three-year absence, choosing to do so with director Amiel. Farrar's Hitchcockian-style story focuses on naive Blockbuster Video clerk Wallace Ritchie (Bill Murray) who travels from Des Moines, Iowa, to London to celebrate his birthday with his wealthy younger brother, James (Peter Gallagher). When he turns up on the same night that James has plans to attend a high-profile client dinner party (that he hopes will bring him millions from a German investment firm), James needs to keep Wallace away during the evening, so he gives Wallace a ticket to the participatory Theater of Life. The theater game requires Wallace to assume a character and interact with actors portraying people in dramatic situations. At the corner phone booth, the initial call should begin the evening of innocent fun. However, the phone instructions Wallace receives are actually intended for an assassin, part of a scheme to end the current UK regime and revive the Cold War. The real assassin gets the call from the Theater of Life. Blissfully unaware, Wallace walks without fear into a complex web of intrigue involving defense ministers, call girls, and Russian hitmen. For Wallace, all the world's a stage, and he's amazed at the skill of the actors, including beautiful enigmatic Lori (Joanne Whalley) -- while Wallace's pursuers are mystified by their adversary's fearlessness in the face of threats, torture and bullets. Farrar got the idea for this comedy from a chance remark at a party: "The inspiration came from a dinner party, when somebody told me about these strange live theater performances which were all the rage in England in the '80s. The idea was to telephone for instructions if you wanted to take part. My immediate reaction was, 'Wouldn't it be fabulous if somebody got the wrong number, and it all went hopelessly wrong?'" Filming took place in London's East End (Three Mills Studios), at a variety of London locations, and just outside London at the Elstree Film Studios.more
Rating: PG (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Farrar, Howard Franklin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 24, 1998
Warner Home Video


Bill Murray
as Wallace Ritchie
Peter Gallagher
as James Ritchie
Richard Wilson
as Daggenhurst
John Standing
as Embleton
Anna Chancellor
as Barbara Ritchie
John Thomson
as Dimitri
Janet Henfrey
as Ms. Goldstein
Donald Pickering
as Sir Duncan
Venetia Barrett
as Sir Duncan's Wife Fe...
Terence Harvey
as Herr Schuster
Cate Fowler
as Frau Schuster
Sarah Crowden
as Sylvia/Fiona
Barnaby Kay
as Swat Team Leader/PC ...
Linda Broughton
as Middle-Aged Woman
David Boyce
as Middle-Aged Man
Jo Dow
as Hotel Manager
Bob Holmes
as Husband in Hotel Roo...
Paul Shearer
as TV Reporter
Yoshinori Yamamoto
as Japanese Man
Toshie Ogura
as Japanese Woman
Charles Simon
as Aged Desk/Night Cler...
Roger Morlidge
as PC Cochrane
Ashley Gunstock
as Second Policeman in ...
Judith Dawson
as TV Newscaster
David Michaels
as MI5 Agent
Damian Myerscough
as Stage Manager
Jason Round
as Policeman
Andrew Woodall
as Det. Sgt. Malloy
Malcolm Storry
as Chief Insp. Cockburn
Eddie Marsan
as Mugger No. 1
Tat Whalley
as Mugger No. 2
Fred Whitham
as Toastmaster
Daryll Kay
as Liveried Child
Linzi Lazlo-Carr
as Liveried Child
Richard Cubison
as Immigration Officer
Sarah Greene
as TV Presenter
Mike Smith
as TV Presenter
J.E. Freeman
as CIA Man
Maxwell Caulfield
as British Agent
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Man Who Knew Too Little

Critic Reviews for The Man Who Knew Too Little

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (15)

A one-note mix-up.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

...a misguided and terminally unfunny disaster that's rarely as appealing or entertaining as star Bill Murray's typically charismatic performance.

Full Review… | May 5, 2015
Reel Film Reviews

You have to be a Bill Murray fan, or in an especially generous mood, to find The Man Who Knew Too Little more than mildly amusing.

Full Review… | September 27, 2007

This is the kind of thing Murray and Amiel could do in their sleep. So they do.

November 5, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Man Who Knew Too Little



Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

A one-joke comedy that wants to carry the absurdity of its premise throughout the entire plot. At first it is a funny idea but it wears out faster than expected, with not many smart twists to keep the story fresh, but at least Bill Murray makes it an amusing experience.

Carlos Magalhăes

Super Reviewer

A decent semi-comedy that twists and turns until an ok but not terrific ending.

Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer

The Man Who Knew Too Little Quotes

James Ritchie: Am I talking to an actor now or a human being?
Hawkins: Neither, sir. I'm a policeman.
– Submitted by Frances H (22 months ago)
Sergei: If we cannot trust each other, how can we bring back Cold War together?
– Submitted by Frances H (22 months ago)
Lori: I often wondered what death would look like, but I didn't think it would look like you.
– Submitted by Frances H (22 months ago)
Wallace Ritchie: Nobody asked me to be a human being.
– Submitted by Victor M (3 years ago)

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