For Your Consideration
Warner Independent Pictures
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.