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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25%
Worth A Look42.24%
Average: 16.38%
Pretty Bad: 12.93%
Total Crap: 3.45%

9 reviews, 62 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Steve Martin's gentle satire of moviemaking."
5 stars

Steve Martin has to eat, so every couple of years he lends his face (and not much else) to a 'Sgt. Bilko' or an 'Out-of-Towners.' Those aren't real Steve Martin films; the genuine articles are the ones he writes himself.

Martin had a hand in writing some of his earlier comedies, but it wasn't until Roxanne in 1987 that he sat down and hammered out a script on his own; the result was a graceful promotion, a step up from slapstick to more subtle and character-driven comedy. (In essence, as a writer-actor, Martin is like Albert Brooks without the self-loathing.) His subsequent scripts, most notably L.A. Story, have been fine enough to make many of us wish Martin would type "Fade in" and "Fade out" more often.

Bowfinger, which Martin wrote, finds him in ideal circumstances. He's working with Frank Oz (Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), the only director aside from Carl Reiner who really knows what to do with Martin. He's surrounded by a dependable comic ensemble of familiar and unfamiliar faces. He's tackling the subject of moviemaking, always fertile soil for farce. And he's working with Eddie Murphy (in not one but two roles), a historic pairing that's all the more satisfying for being in a good movie. (Sgt. Bilko united Martin and Dan Aykroyd for the first time on the big screen, but blew it.)

Except for a few frantic moments, the character Martin has written for himself -- Bobby Bowfinger, ambitious and luckless movie producer -- is almost a straight man. Bowfinger has gotten his hands on an action script -- Chubby Rain, a nonsensical alien-attack thing that he thinks is perfect for Hollywood's reigning star, Kit Ramsey (Murphy). Problem is, a star of Kit's magnitude wouldn't piss on Bowfinger if he were on fire. So Bowfinger devises a sneak-attack strategy -- guerrilla filmmaking as a covert operation. He'll shoot the movie around Kit, catching footage of a baffled Kit interacting with the movie's cast, and use a dorky lookalike -- Jiff, also played by Murphy -- as a stand-in.

Martin and Aykroyd looked ill at ease together in Sgt. Bilko. Trapped inside the idiot plot, they knew they were better than the material. By contrast, Martin and Murphy seem absolutely natural together. Mostly, the team-up is Bowfinger and Jiff (the producer has limited access to Kit), and Jiff brings out a weird gentleness in both Murphy and Martin. Bowfinger doesn't have tons of big laughs (though it does offer a few); it has a lot of soft, affectionate laughs rooted in the way the characters interact. Heather Graham, for instance, drops into the movie as an eager ingenue who's more than meets the eye, and Martin and the other actors work with her so comfortably that she gives perhaps the first good performance I've seen from her.

Bowfinger isn't really about making movies. It's about being in the movie business -- finding a home there. Bowfinger doesn't want to make movies; he wants to have made them, and he wants the status of getting big stars to be in his movies. For Martin, Bowfinger is the essence of Hollywood, which cares more about making deals than making movies. A low-budget outsider like Bowfinger should be concentrating on pulling together small projects within his means; instead, he's shooting for an alien epic starring the world's biggest action hero, on the kingly budget of $2,184.

'Bowfinger' is a showcase for wit, and it's a testament to Martin's literary skills that he's incapable of writing a bad script, even on purpose: Even the forlorn 'Chubby Rain,' with its surreal scenes of cops melting and high-heeled women intoning "You prefer alien love!", looks more interesting than most of the Kit Ramsey-type stuff we get every summer.

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originally posted: 01/26/07 11:14:35
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User Comments

1/19/14 Monday Morning Great flick! 5 stars
7/28/08 The Dork Knight One of the worst comedies ever made 1 stars
1/10/08 Indrid Cold A clever idea, but not actually very funny. 3 stars
7/06/07 Total Crap I love the Tom Cruise/ Interview with the Vampire line. This movie is funny shit! 4 stars
2/13/07 johnnyfog pretty weak comedy and not at all funny 1 stars
2/09/07 MP Bartley Sigh...I pray for the day that Martin and Murphy are this funny again. 4 stars
9/01/04 A upton just ok 4 stars
5/13/04 John very funny and entertaining - 5 stars
11/28/03 Samuel pretty funny 3 stars
11/04/03 Charles Tatum Light Hollywood comedy, instantly forgettable 4 stars
7/20/03 R.W. Welch Satirical farce doesn't click all the time but is rather inventive. 4 stars
5/11/03 Andrew Carden Martin Gives A Solid Performance, but The Jokes Are Awful and Murphy Is Obnoxious. 2 stars
12/31/02 John Aster Habig a highly underlooked Martin masterpeice second only to Roxanne 5 stars
3/31/02 Marcia Lartz Persistently stupid but never quite lets you lose interest. 3 stars
11/29/01 The $1.98 Pyramid Bowfinger rocks! 5 stars
9/04/01 Butterbean Had it's funny moments. Especially how Martin "hired" his film crew. 4 stars
8/19/01 Dr. Thompson Eddy Murphy's nerd character was great "Merciful God!" Meh heh eh 4 stars
8/07/01 Joe Zappa Remember that part that was awesome? That was all of it! 5 stars
7/16/01 Mark White This is the worst movie Eddie Murphy has ever been in, including The Golden Child. 1 stars
7/03/01 Elvisfan Eddie Murphy is an under-rated actor. He does well w/Steve & vice-versa 4 stars
6/23/01 Wannabe Optimistic I really loved this movie. I wish comedic performances were nominated for Oscars at... 5 stars
6/11/01 Phil M. Afficianado Whether it was the cheap wine or the riotous scenes, I had convulsive gigglies. See it. 5 stars
5/13/01 The Moorhen She was from the planet NEON! 5 stars
3/02/01 Cesar if there was funnier,i could say that is good 3 stars
1/18/01 I love movies not that good, movie often boring 3 stars
9/04/00 The Extreaminizer Steve, Eddie, Heather Graham, Frank Oz....What more can you ask? Hilarious Comedy!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/14/00 humbert so very close to being good 3 stars
6/13/00 malcolm oh heavenly god, this movie was funny! 4 stars
5/21/00 Jess Eddie Murphy, Terrence Stamp, Barry Newman, Steve Martin, all awesome. 5 stars
3/25/00 Richard Wright Steve Martin funny again? Quit sleeping with young girls and get a decent script. 2 stars
3/17/00 David Rogers It had funny parts, but they were endangered. 4 stars
1/24/00 arnold this kicked ass 5 stars
1/15/00 Marli It's funny but little bit boring 3 stars
1/05/00 Joel Harwood Not bad 4 stars
12/30/99 Mic Hilarious, witty, satirical 4 stars
11/16/99 JonnyAngel hmmmmmm 3 stars
11/09/99 Ralf Behet Enjoyable. Especially the middle section is pretty funny. 4 stars
9/23/99 JimBob Love ya Laker Girls... Very good.I'm an old fan of E.M.&S.M.but 've been disapnted in past 5 stars
9/15/99 Geoff Wilke terrible, waste of time & money, dumb humor 2 stars
9/11/99 Timbo "I would never take advantage of you" "And I would never betray your trust" 4 stars
9/02/99 Malbert Some pretty funny moments, Eddie Murphy is awesome as always 4 stars
8/27/99 PhilmPhreak Genius! 5 stars
8/26/99 Ami the Wonderbread Martin is a great writer, Murphy was hilarious 4 stars
8/26/99 jvt Amusing enough 3 stars
8/26/99 swilson not consistent, but very funny in parts and Baranski is hysterical 4 stars
8/23/99 rocksolidace o.k. .... nothing special 3 stars
8/22/99 Daelic Seen the trailers? Then you've seen the film. Very mediocre. 3 stars
8/22/99 Wilusa Great movie. Made me wheeze in joy. 5 stars
8/21/99 BoB Boring Nonsense Grade: F 1 stars
8/21/99 Bain almost peed in my pants during the dog in high heels scene 4 stars
8/19/99 ralph roether 3 Bowfinger is really funny....i laughed out loud a lot.....i would recommend it... 4 stars
8/19/99 Admiral Crunch it was funny 4 stars
8/19/99 Geoff The best effort from both in a long, long, time. Go see it. 4 stars
8/19/99 Michael Grimm Great ending, Heather Graham is a slut 4 stars
8/17/99 deb smith mediocre and over hyped 3 stars
8/17/99 Dax Lots of chuckles throughout the flick, and the ending is hilarious 4 stars
8/16/99 Randall I laughed, loved the smart humor, disappointed by the low brow stuff 4 stars
8/16/99 davebo boarder running scene had me cracking up 5 stars
8/16/99 mason funniest movie of its kind ... even better than ed wood 4 stars
8/15/99 Ricky Urena I can't remember the last I laughed so hard watching a movie. 5 stars
8/14/99 Bob, Lord of Evil Third funniest flick of the year. Pissed myself at the end.... 5 stars
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  13-Aug-1999 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Frank Oz

Written by
  Steve Martin

  Steve Martin
  Eddie Murphy
  Heather Graham
  Johnny Sanchez
  Ramiro Fabian
  Robert Downey Jr.

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