by Ryan Arthur
There's a method to Steve Martin movies. As a general rule, if Martin wrote the script, it's a funny, smart film. If he didn't, well, it's a crap shoot. Luckily, Martin wrote this. And it shows.The Jerk, L.A. Story, Roxanne, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid...Steve Martin wrote them all, and they're all smart, funny, sweet films. The Jerk's a comedy milestone that even Stanley Kubrick liked. L.A. Story was a too-hip-for-some love letter to a city, Roxanne was a smart retelling of Cyrano De Bergerac, Dead Men was the homage to those gangster films. And they're funny.
"*Every* movie is made for $2,184."
But put Martin in a, say, an Out-Of-Towners, a Sergeant Bilko, a Housesitter...well, you get the idea. Steve Martin - writer/star=funny. Steve Martin - not the writer=significantly less funny.
Which brings me to Bowfinger. Martin plays Bobby Bowfinger, a down on his luck director/producer who just happens to have the best script he's ever read, "Chubby Rain," in his hands. "Chubby Rain" is an action movie involving aliens living in drops of water, making the drops, uh, chubby. All Bowfinger needs is a star, and this flick will get the greenlight in no time flat. Bowfinger wants Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy).
Unfortunately, Kit wants nothing to do with Bowfinger. He's too busy studying the religion (?) of Mind Head, following the teachings of Terry Stricter (Terence Stamp).
No problem. Bowfinger will just shoot around Ramsey, without Ramsey's knowledge. The other actors will do their scenes with him, he just won't be in on it. It's guerrilla filmmaking. Bowfinger has just the group for it, too, including an aging diva (Christine Baranski, in the best role she's ever had) and a not-so-innocent girl from Ohio who wants to be an actress (Heather Graham, finally living up to Boogie Nights), and a camera operator (Scream's Jamie Kennedy) who gets his equipment by "borrowing" it from the studios.
Ramsey starts to go off the deep end as a result of the weirdass people coming up to him, then goes into hiding, prompting Bowfinger to hire a stand-in, Jiff (Murphy), a dead ringer for Ramsey, except for the braces, Coke-bottle glasses, and the fact that he's as dumb as a post.
Bowfinger boasts a movie within a movie plotline (which can work against it at times), and slams at Hollywood and the industry, as well as supposed vanity religions (perhaps a veiled reference to Scientology, which Martin has denied). It also has Martin's best role since L.A. Story and Murphy's best role since God knows when.Drags occasionally, but on the whole quite enjoyable. Smart script.
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originally posted: 08/25/99 14:59:23