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Summary

Wild and Crazy Guys is the larger-than-life story of the much-loved Hollywood comedy stars that ruled the 1980s. 

As well as delving behind the scenes of classic movies such as Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places and dozens more, it chronicles the off-screen, larger-than-life antics of Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Candy 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.  

It’s akin to Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, following the key players through their highs and lows, and their often turbulent relationships with each other. Nick de Semlyen has already interviewed pretty much all the big names for Empire, as well as directors such as Walter Hill, John Landis and Carl Reiner, and is sitting on lots of unseen material. 

Taking you on a trip through the tumultous ’80s, Wild and Crazy Guys explores the friendships, feuds, triumphs and disasters experienced by these iconic funnymen. Based on candid interviews from the stars themselves, as well as those who entered their orbit, it reveals the hidden history behind the most fertile period ever for screen comedy.

©2019 Nick de Semlyen (P)2019 Penguin Random House LLC

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American Movie Comedy

If you're a fan of American comedy movies from the Eighties such as Caddyshack, 48 Hours, The Jerk, The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Groundhog Day then you'll find a lot to enjoy in this audiobook. If you're a mega-fan, you might be disappointed because you might have heard a lot of the material and anecdotes before. With a focus on specific comics and their movies, a narrative is built out of stories and quotes that you feel you could quite easily find via Google or back issues of Empire or Premier. The trick has been to pull all these together in a neat way, and in a style where I think that this author never directly interviewed any of the key players - but I'm not sure that he didn't. Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase are all liberally cited but, as I say, their comments seem to have been lifted from other interviews. However, if you enjoyed these films and enjoy podcasts like The Rewatchables, you'll find a lot to enjoy here. (For the record though, I never got Saturday Night Live.)

1 person found this helpful

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A supremely in-depth ‘behind the scenes’ of an iconic era in movie comedy.

This is a lively, colourful and detailed document of the men behind some of the funniest movies of the Eighties, brought entertainingly to life by Curtis Armstrong’s engaging narration.

As a teenager throughout the mid to late 80s, I grew up loving the majority of the films covered in this book, and all but idolising some of their chief stars. Naturally I took an interest in the Saturday Night Live roots of my comedy idols, having only discovered them solely through their respective breakout movie roles.

I’ll admit though to having not been wholly impressed by the various clips of SNL material I later discovered a few years after - as a Brit, having been brought up on the likes of Blackadder and Monty Python, I guess there was always going to be something lost in translation when it came to TV sketch humour from the US. I guess I didn’t have a radar for the more US-centric references at that time, but regardless of the reasons, I just didn’t appreciate the humour. All that said, I’ve remained fascinated with the TV platform where my heroes first cut their comedy teeth nonetheless.

I was thoroughly delighted then to discover Nick De Semlyen’s book, which has proven to be a revelation (or rather, a litany of them!) Covering not just those pivotal early years of SNL, National Lampoon and also Second City TV, but the evolving careers of Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, it delves into the many highs and lows, bitter rivalries, endearing comic partnerships, serious passion projects, bizarre and expensive flops, and the dizzyingly unexpected, mega-success stories.

It is also layered with a seemingly endless number of insights into the movie-making business, the wheeling and dealing, initial casting choices, radical script changes, heated on-set exchanges, and countless other asides... it just keeps on giving.

With candid quotes from not only the comedy talents themselves, but a panoply of movie insiders, producers, and indeed the directors (John Landis, Frank Oz, Carl Reiner Ivan Reitman), who helmed many of the films that form the bedrock of this narrative, there is such a wealth of detailed, anecdotal information to absorb here, that I shall be cueing it up for repeat listens for many more days, weeks, and months to come!

If you’re a fan of such films as The Blues Brothers, 48 Hours, Trading Places, Ghostbusters, Fletch, Planes Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and the many holiday trials and tribulations of one Clark Griswold, then I cannot recommend this audiobook strongly enough - you truly owe it to yourself to give it a listen. Or three.

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Book excellent, narrator takes getting used to.

The book is fantastic, really really good.

I would however try the free sample before purchasing the audiobook as the narrator does take getting used to. He annunciates every word a bit too deliberately for me and it comes across quite unnatural.

I did get past that ( I held off on purchasing due to this ) and am glad I did.

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My new favourite film book

Perfect nostalgia for a kid from the 80’s who was a fan of all these movies.

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fantastic book

absolutely loved this book, covering the 80s comedy icons , my heroes of Belushi , Aykroyd and Murphy. For anyone who loves these movies I would highly recomend this book

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Engrossing and informative

Devoured this in 2 weeks. Incredible research and well spoken by Curtis Armstromg. Made me nostalgic for an era I wasn't alive for...

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Great listen

Very 'listenable' - great book. Highly recommend this to any Empire reader who likes the movie history sections

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A fun canter through the careers of some comedy legends

An enjoyable way to reminisce about some great films and some comedy legends. Has some great anecdotes (although after the opening chapter I was hoping for more) and the narrator is excellent. A fun way to pass a few hours and have some laughs.

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As potent as a Land Shark...

Quite simply a great collection of tales and trivia, brilliantly interwoven by the author. Charting the SNL key comedy players' movies and events from the 80s through to the mid 90s. Highly recommended.

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Big recommendation

Really enjoyed this one. Entertaining and insightful. A must listen for fans of 80's blockbusters.