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For Your Consideration

For Your Consideration
Warner Independent Pictures
Rated PG-13
Review by: Larry Thomas

Christopher Guest has had a fairly amazing career. He started as an actor in a variety of theatrical and television films. Then he had a successful stint as an actor-writer-director on Saturday Night Live. He followed up with high-profile roles in three movies that have achieved cult status: This Is Spinal Tap, A Few Good Men, and The Princess Bride. And most recently, Guest has achieved his own cult status as an actor-writer-director of a series of films that have defined the term "mocumentary."

In 1996, Christopher Guest turned his talents into Waiting For Guffman, a look at a small-town, talentless theatrical company putting on a pageant in Missouri. It was an instant art-house hit, and has found its way onto many "favorite movie" lists. Waiting For Guffman also cemented what has become known as the "Christopher Guest Stock Company:" Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Larry Miller and Bob Balaban, as well as Guest himself.

Four years later, this whimsical bunch of filmmakers struck boxoffice gold with Best In Show a jaundiced look at dog shows, dog breeders, and dog owners. Jennifer Coolidge, Michael McKean and Jane Lynch were added to the company, and Best In Show won great critical and commercial acclaim.

Next came A Mighty Wind, a spoof on folk singers, and in some ways, a poke at public radio's A Prairie Home Companion. Harry Shearer joined the fun, and while A Mighty Wind didn't live up to its predecessors, it was still much better than most of the films being churned out for the plexes.

This years' entry is For Your Consideration, in which Guest and company explore moviemaking, Oscar buzz, entertainment reporters, and ego. And that's part of the problem. There are too many targets in this film, so while some things hit, others don't.

Although the stock company is in generally fine form, especially Catherine O'Hara who does give, if you'll pardon the expression, an Oscar-worthy performance, much of the film seems too familiar. Fred Willard and Jane Lynch play the Entertainment Tonight-style reporters who are all brass and no class. Willard, as always, provokes laughs, but it's the same schtick we've seen him do over and over. Ditto Eugene Levy as the nebbish agent of Harry Shearer. Levy is rechanneling old performances that we've seen before. There's none of the freshness that was evident in American Pie, for example.

Sandra Oh has an unbilled cameo for about five seconds, as does Ricky Gervaise, which is a waste of their considerable talents.

All that being said, you'll be able to find enough laughs and scattershot satire to make For Your Consideration worth seeing.

Christopher Guest has been recently quoted as wanting to stop making these kinds of films as he no longer finds them funny. Since parts of For Your Consideration seem stale and repetitive, and the film feels longer than its 86 minutes, that makes sense. The major problem with For Your Consideration is that there is too much truth in the nature of these characters. The laughs don't erase the inherent sadness of these people. Example: in anticipation of the highly-touted Oscar nomination for her performance in the film-within-a-film, Catherine O'Hara submits to plastic surgery to look younger, and comes out with a grotesque, grinning visage. All we need do is look at any of the tabloid entertainment shows on TV to know that, while intended to be funny, it happens too often in Hollywood.


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