Not So Best of Show

For Your Consideration. Christopher Guest, Eugene
Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, and Harry
Shearer star in a film written by Levy and Guest, and directed by
Guest.

Reviewed by Josef Woodard

Seemingly against all odds, Christopher Guest and gang have
pieced together a signature cottage industry during the past two
decades, in which celluloid improv and satirical incisors add up to
a peculiar and very specific kind of cine-magic. But the problem
with magic tricks is their fragility: one dazzling trick makes a
lesser one — like the Hollywood send-up For Your
Consideration — appear sad and wanting.

This is not Spinal Tap. But it’s ironic that Guest’s company has
the least comic firepower on the theme closest to home for an
ensemble which makes its living in the acting game. Maybe the
pretensions and built-in absurdities of the worlds of heavy metal
(This Is Spinal Tap), community theater (Waiting for Guffman), and
dog shows (Best in Show) are fairer game, whereas irrational
Hollywood is just too close to home for the objective distance
necessary for a good satirist. It’s a parallax issue.

Part of the problem is that the basic premise, about the making
and marketing of a film called Home for Purim (later de-Jewished to
Home for Thanksgiving) and the lust for Oscar buzz, is too
implausible. An everyday, realistic encounter with Hollywood’s
dream ’n’ hype machine might have offered better food for
farce.

We all have our favorites in the Guest ensemble, and this viewer
was warmed by the usual surreal comic grace of the great Fred
Willard (sporting a disarming “fauxhawk”) and the lovely, loopy
Parker Posey, whose Oscar pipe dreams contrast with her
penile-oriented standup act. Television’s John Michael Higgins does
a giddy turn in a hideous toupee as a clueless publicist who
babbles about the “world wide interweb” and the mystery of the
publicity game, where you get “a little bit of fairy dust and pow,
you’re off to the races.”

Regular-enough doses of rubbery humor and joy buzzer moments
keep us awake and optimistic, but overall, the center doesn’t even
form, let alone hold. Stacked up against high expectations, For
Your Consideration is possibly the meekest and most disappointing
Guest romp yet. Still, for diehard Guest fanatics and anyone
seeking intelligent comic diversion in a movie theater not
presently showing Borat!, run, don’t walk.

Login

Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.