For Your Consideration
2006Director: Christopher Guest
Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy
pinal Tap meets Ed Wood in Christopher Guest’s well-proportioned deflection from his signature, idiosyncratic mockumentary territory, and by the look of things, it’s a welcome change. If this even-tempered satire of the knavish and mucky inner workings of the Hollywood movie industry doles out little in the way of something new or shocking, that’s because there is actually little new or shocking that can still be gleaned from a movie exposé of this sort. Hollywood, transparent in its untransparency, is giddily skewered to its bones in Guest’s contemporary human comedy. Along the way, good old laughs, chirpy jokes, and over-the-top absurdity keep us from heading for the back door.
A new Christopher Guest movie is always going to register with the expectant fan crowds, and Guest could probably get away with a batty Spinal Tap knock-off and still retain an untarnished reputation in the process. For all its spoofy comedic trappings and fickle buffoonery, though, For Your Consideration isn’t a sharp-cut mockumentary in the old Guest style. The trademark movie-within-a-movie reactionist reporting lends itself to scripted fictionalization, and Guest’s latest sways the Scary Movie direction more than it takes the Tristram Shandy route. Not always a bad thing, but the laughs tend to suffer after a while.
Funny, if a bit far fetched in its implications, For Your Consideration wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s a simple setting: The filming of a small independent movie, Home for Purim, is suddenly tipped over when buzz of an Oscar-worthy performance from one its leads makes its way from the Internet onto the street—which is when things spiral out of control for both Guest and his movie. From Catherine O’Hara’s far-gone B-actress to the bleached-out, meat-lipped, brain-stripped local entertainment TV presenter, each of Guest’s oddball lap-dogs is a walking cliché; the humor, as a result, is shelled out as a procession of laugh-out-loud, half-witted gags, and much of Guest’s understated wisecracking is merely swept under the carpet or completely overlooked.
Guest’s vision overcharges the notion of the Hollywood machine as ruled by imbecilic, backstabbing, ill-advised, two-faced sycophants with pockets as deep as the Grand Canyon and brains as thin as a rake. This satirical swipe of a movie is often painfully true, but you’re really laughing at the same old stuff. Granted, it’s a fairly accurate representation, to be sure, but where can you take it? Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy’s script slips along the midline between run-of-the-mill comedy and subtly sardonic satire, and for a while, you aren’t sure which way to turn.
If anything, it’s the second half of the movie that needs glossing. That’s where For Your Consideration wobbles in the misfired direction of becoming merely a funny movie about Hollywood rather than a movie that pokes fun at Hollywood. It certainly works best at its most subtle, when the plot holes and underwritten characters don’t try too hard to fire up the laughs, but scuff their way through the script, seemingly oblivious of genre formalities.
For Your Consideration opens in the US on November 17.
By: Sandro Matosevic
Published on: 2006-10-26