' Cinema Romantico: For Your Consideration

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

For Your Consideration

“For Your Consideration” is the latest from Christopher Guest (of “Best in Show”, “Waiting for Guffman” and "A Mighty Wind") and this time out his posse of improvisers poke fun at the Oscar process. The leading actress (Catherine O'Hara) of a teeny-tiny independent film called "Home For Purim" is notified of an internet rumor that she may be nominated for an Oscar. And then buzz grows for the leading actor (Harry Shearer). And another leading actress (Parker Posey). And soon things are spiraling out of control as everyone becomes desperate to land that coveted nomination.

The movie's amusing, I guess, and diverting, but it just doesn't hold a candle to the previous three features of Guest. There just isn't a lot of material here that's uproariously funny. Not like Parker Posey’s “busy-bee” freak-out in "Best in Show", which was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

I will admit to the few gags involving the screenwriters (Michael McKean and Bob Balaban) as warming my heart but that's to be expected. At one point "Home For Purim's" director throws the actual script to the floor and we instantly cut to the writers off-camera who exclaim, "He did not just do that."

The acting is of the highest caliber as it always is in Guest's movies. Catherine O’Hara as the film-within-the film leading actress is solid. But I personally found the supporting actors to be the most enjoyable. Fred Willard as the bombastic host of an "Entertainment Tonight"-type TV show. Ed Begley Jr. as the film's flamboyant hair-dresser. John Michael Higgins as a publicist who apparently has just emerged from the depths of a nervous breakdown. That being said, the publicist isn’t all that vital to the story. Whereas previous Christopher Guest movies were based on improv, things still felt structured and characters did not feel wasted. You can’t help but wonder if Guest was just creating characters to make sure all his pals could turn up onscreen.

You really felt something for the lovable schlubs in “Waiting For Guffman”. You wanted their crummy little play to succeed. When Corky St. Clair locked himself in the bathroom you truly wanted him to come back out and press on. But the fate of the actors in “For Your Consideration” doesn’t seem all that important.

It may, however, be the mere fact that spoofing the movie industry has already been done many times and been done well. In the previous three movies Guest tackled subjects that had never really been scene cinematically. So, if you’ll allow me to indulge for a moment, here’s my proposal for Guest’s next film. A send-up of wine culture. Think about the possibilities! I mean, just imagine a wine tasting scene in which Guest is the instructor, Willard is the bombastic (of course) know-it-all who doesn’t know anything, Eugene Levy is the clueless husband whose wife, Catherine O’Hara, really wants to learn, Parker Posey is the snotty yuppie who’s there solely to get drunk and eat cheese and crackers. It could be fantastic!

Maybe I’ll give Chris a call…….

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