Monday, March 05, 2007


Pulling your satirical punches

By Edward Copeland
For Your Consideration zipped in and out of my town with such alarming speed that I didn't get a chance to catch it until it hit DVD. I wish I could report that it was worth the wait.

I've felt Christopher Guest's films have been getting better. I was mixed on Waiting for Guffman, liked Best in Show and really liked A Mighty Wind. However, For Your Consideration is a real low mark for Guest, Eugene Levy and their growing and talented ensemble of regulars.

When I heard that Guest's next project would take on the hysteria that comes with Oscar campaigning, I couldn't wait. Too bad he didn't make that film. Few laughs can be found in For Your Consideration and the entire film is so silly that it plays as if he's afraid he'd really piss someone off if they did a razor sharp satire on the press barrage actors and filmmakers embark on as they chase Oscar glory.

Real Oscar campaigns produce more laughs than For Your Consideration. (My favorite from this year: When Eddie Murphy tried to pull the patented Nicole Kidman-failed marriage ploy. Not surprisingly, Murphy didn't make that one fly as Kidman did. Perhaps if he had been married to Tom Cruise instead of someone no one knew...)

For me, the biggest problem was that while this obviously sets out to be a comedy, it exists in a universe that bears no resemblance to the real movie industry so the whole enterprise seems ludicrous. Sure, sometimes Oscar buzz does start before a movie has been made (especially if the increasingly loony David Poland is involved, since he's predicting a best actor win for Johnny Depp next year for Sweeney Todd a mere three weeks into the filming) or released (The casting of Meryl Streep in the film version of Doubt seems like a sure bet for a nomination for example).

However, I can't recall reports percolating from a movie in progress such as they do from the set of the movie-within-a-movie "Home for Purim," especially when it's made clear that the cast is populated with has-beens, failed standup comics and actors reduced to appearing in commercials as giant hot dogs.

The whole premise seems ridiculous, yet the first hour of the movie takes place entirely while the film is still being made. Then, the story (which only has 20 minutes left) tries to score a point with the by-now tired cliche of movie execs interfering with a film, the campaigning barely happens, the nomination day comes and the movie ends.

I know I may be silly asking for some level of realism in a movie such as this, but if they can say "Oscar," why do they have the nominations announced at 5 a.m. Pacific time when they've been at 5:30 a.m. Pacific time for ages?

This is the first in Guest's series of films that abandons the mockumentary format but I can't help but think that perhaps this is one that called for that most of all, perhaps competitors from several titles portrayed as jockeying for position.

Some of the performers get their moments (I especially liked the odd turn by John Michael Higgins), but everything falls so flat I don't see how poor Catherine O'Hara got any real buzz for her work here. Many of the dependable regulars such as Guest himself almost seem like afterthoughts in the movie. (Parker Posey actually gets more laughs in Superman Returns than she does here.)

The best moments belong to the team of Fred Willard and Jane Lynch as the hosts of an Entertainment Tonight clone, but their scenes alone aren't enough to salvage the film. In a way, it's ironic that Ricky Gervais appears in the film as a movie exec because though I'm not a big fan of his HBO series Extras, his first season episode with Kate Winslet was funnier and more on the mark when it came to the rabid pursuit of Oscar nominations.

I can understand the inclination not to want to burn any bridges, but with a project such as For Your Consideration, what's the point of doing it if you don't leave some flaming wreckage in your wake?

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I agree, i thought For Your Consideration's main weakness was that at 86 minutes long and a larger main cast than usual, it didn't give us time to let us get to know the characters.
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