After lacerating rock musicians, small town theater troupes and dog shows, Christopher Guestâ€™s new film â€œFor Your Considerationâ€ takes on Hollywood and a topic near and dear to this websiteâ€™s heartâ€¦ Academy Award buzz. After a movie website predicts Oscar gold for the B-List cast of a movie that hasnâ€™t even finished filming, the set is thrown into a tizzyâ€¦ with predictable results.
Very predictable results. While watching this toothless satire, I was reminded of a tagline from a film noir poster that read: â€œNo one is who they seem.â€ The opposite is true here. Every character is exactly what youâ€™d expect.
The actors in â€œHome for Purim,â€ the film within the film, are uniformly insecure and preening, for no other reason than because actors in Hollywood satires are always insecure and preening. Upon learning that a fellow castmate may be in the running for an Oscar, the other actors all become â€“ gasp! â€“ jealous and backstabbing.
An agent, played by Levy, professes undying loyalty to his client Victor Alan Miller (played by a nearly somnambulant Harry Shearer), then interrupts the actor in mid-sentence to take a cell phone call from another client. It turns out that agents are insincere and only pretend to care about their clients. Ha! Take that, Hollywood!
And much to my surprise, the setâ€™s hairdresser, played by Ed Begley, Jr., is lisping and effeminate. Finally, someone had the courage to point out that many hairsylists are gay.
Guest plays Jay Berman, the director of â€œHome for Purim,â€ but he could just as easily be named Urban Jew. No Semitic stereotype is left unturned. Whiny, Woody Allen voice? Check. Jewfro? Check. Actually eating a corn beef on rye while addressing the cast. Double check.
It is baffling why Guest and company would take on such a frequently-satirized subject like Hollywood vanity without having a fresh take or a sharp tooth to bring to the table. Brilliant shows like â€œAction,â€ â€œEntourage,â€ and â€œThe Larry Sanders Showâ€ and films like â€œThe Playerâ€ and â€œSwimming with Sharksâ€ have weighed in extensively on the subject. In fact, twenty five years ago, Guest, himself, made â€œThe Big Picture,â€ a brilliantly caustic look at the Hollywood machine.
Starting with Guestâ€™s last movie, the loagy â€œThe Mighty Wind,â€ the directorâ€™s work has become less pointed, focused and funny. His improvisational style which once yielded some of the most humorous scenes in recent memory (â€œThis one goes to eleven.â€) has degenerated into a masturbatory theater sport that seems to go nowhere (or at least nowhere fun). Indeed, â€œConsiderationâ€ feels like a series of disjointed acting exercises aimed at unearthing character idiosyncrasies (â€œLooking at me, would you guess that I am one-third Choctaw Indian?â€) rather than laughter from the audience.
Guest may consider this shift to be a healthy evolution from juvenile jokiness to character exploration, like Woody Allen maturing from his seventies goofball phase (â€œBananasâ€) to his weightier, eighties renaissance (â€œCrimes and Misdemeanorsâ€). But Guest is no Woody Allen. His newer films have not cast aside their comedic elements in order to tackle more meaningful social and philosophical themes. And the characters, as Iâ€™ve pointed out above, are superficial thumbnail sketches, rather than fully-realized flesh and bone humans. In short, Guest is not making dramas instead of comedies; he is making bad comedies, instead of good ones.