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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look59.46%
Average: 24.32%
Pretty Bad: 5.41%
Total Crap: 10.81%

4 reviews, 13 user ratings

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For Your Consideration
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by Erik Childress

"Consider Watching HBO Or The Big Picture Instead"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The Oscars are easier to mock than you might think. Hell, they’ve been doing a fine time without our help for years. Many critics tend to use the word “joke” in unison of any discussion of the ritual, not in a ha-ha way, but to sum up the mockery of its omissions and the trifle of campaigning and buzz to steer the ship towards a statuette that’s usually forgot about by year’s end when it starts all over again. Who better then to give the Oscars their due than the Christopher Guest repertoire responsible for Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind? I ask now but chances are you will be asking the same thing AFTER you see their latest work which forgoes their usual mockumentary style and while producing some solid laughs along the way cannot live up to the more prescient Hollywood satire Guest already made 17 years ago.

Temporarily abandoning the kind of interview format which has made up much of their other films, this film begins its focus specifically on Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara), an aging actress trying to convince herself that the work she’s dedicated her life to is still worth pursuing. Her latest film is a low-budget independent drama (done on a studio lot) called “Home For Purim.” Think Keeping Up with the Steins meets One True Thing. Co-starring with her is Victor Alan Miller (Harry Shearer), whose reputation has been destroyed by appearing as a foot-long weiner in commercials. The director (Christopher Guest, seemingly doing Harold Ramis) speaks in generalities and the playwright team (Bob Balaban & Michael McKean) disapproves of every decision being made.

So, it comes with some surprise to the wandering agent and publicist on the set (Eugene Levy & John Michael Higgins) that an internet site is touting Marilyn’s work as potential Oscar bait. This stirs both Marilyn’s paranoia and expectations for herself as filming continues and a media blitz begins to slowly surface around the film. Victor is spurred on by the suggestion of a nomination from your typically cheery morning show hosts and even Callie Webb (Parker Posey), at first dismissive of any awards hype gets into the game when her name is bandied about even at the expense of zero expectation for her co-star boyfriend (Christopher Moynihan).

The fundamental and inescapable problem with the set-up of the film’s satire is that anyone with a infinitesimal knowledge of Hollywood and Oscar season knows that “Home for Purim” has no chance in the awards game. How can it be as we’re made to snicker at the hacky dialogue and over-the-top performances during filming? Which leads to the way the Oscar game is played. While the case can easily be made that Oscar buzz began for this year’s Dreamgirls the minute it was greenlit and before anyone had seen a frame of it, the buzz game typically begins once the film is in the can and studio suits decide whether its worth their effort to mount a campaign. The extremity of FYC’s situation calls for an extreme kind of ignorance in its parody and by almost going out of their way to eliminate any sort of name-dropping, it cuts the guts out of the practicality where TV shows like Larry Sanders and Entourage swim, bathe and oil up on the references to bring life to the fiction around them.

There are sporadic quips here and there that keep For Your Consideration from being completely neutered from the get-go. Higgins’ publicist confirming that the internet is the “one with the e-mail” will ring true for any respectable journalist who has struggled for years to prove that online is a viable medium for the industry. And while always funny, just how many times can we see Jennifer Coolidge as the dimbulb money person? The film really does kickstart in the second half though as the buzz takes on a life of its own thanks to a pair of idiosyncratic Access Hollywood-types (the brilliant Jane Lynch & Fred Willard) and a studio President making the atypical changes to the film and its marketing. The fact that he’s played by one of the great comic actors of our time, Ricky Gervais, it comes with both a perk and a disappointment that he’s not given more screen time to work his magic the way he does in every scene of his more prophetic Hollywood satire, Extras, also seen on HBO.

Before Christopher Guest got back into the mockumentary game, he had already made one of the great under-the-radar films about Hollywood called The Big Picture. That film, starring Kevin Bacon as a fresh-out-of-film-school director given the chance to make his first project at the behest of studio executives who insisted on changing every detail. It’s also distinctive for being one of the few funny characters Martin Short has played on screen, an agent who blows Levy’s take here off the screen. Guest & Levy appear almost conflicted about what route they wanted to take here, starting with a straightforward story and slowly shuffling back into the randomness of giving their own entourage equal footing. O’Hara’s story begins with the potential for poignancy that the Mitch & Mickey relationship had in A Mighty Wind (where Levy did pick up legitimate Oscar buzz), hits us with the hilarious lengths she will go through on the publicity tour and then drives the one joke and the character into the ground. Her role and the film’s tone meter would have been better served by ditching the sob story and turning her into a Sally Kirkland/Sharon Stone-type trying to buy and overexpose herself into a nomination.

Any Guest & Co. film is good for a few laughs and then are more than a few in FYC even if you have to wait a while for the bigger ones to take shape. But they’re also better than this and after mocking (some may say even condescendedly so) small-town theater, dog lovers and folk singers, it’s a wonder why they weren’t able to turn the magnifying glass as aggressively on themselves and their own industry. Shearer’s Victor says that “Oscar is the backbone of this industry, an industry not known for backbone.” Ironic that his statement could also be the film’s very own tagline.

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originally posted: 11/02/06 04:44:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/17/09 pin uh, this one isn't a straight comedy, folks. 4 stars
1/20/08 mb Nothing there ... walked out 1 stars
6/25/07 Russell A total, bitter disappointment. Guest sadly runs out of ideas, originality...and laughs. 1 stars
3/21/07 Indrid Cold Better than I thought it would be. Maybe even Guest's best since Spinal Tap. 4 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Perhaps not sharp enough for its insider crowd/targets, but enough amusing moments to pass. 4 stars
12/02/06 BooBots Maybe not bombastic, but a petite string of nuanced gemlike moments. Improv greats at work. 4 stars
11/26/06 earl hofert too many characters 3 stars
11/25/06 Evelyn55 You WANT to laugh, but you just can't. Really bad. 1 stars
11/25/06 malcolm i feel like i'm in on the joke now, the formula is tired 2 stars
11/25/06 Dr. Jim Biggest disappointment of the year. Darn it! 2 stars
11/24/06 Lombard Love Guest's earlier films, but hated this one. Not funny, dry, or even insightful 1 stars
11/22/06 jdean62 Good performances by several of the cast...but just not that funny to me ! 3 stars
11/18/06 Littleme Maybe he should have stuck with mockumentaries 3 stars
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  17-Nov-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Feb-2007



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