For Your Consideration
Because I wasn’t laughing with in the first 10 minutes of this film, I was scared. Has Christopher Guest finally failed with For Your Consideration?
Nope, he has made me laugh again. It proves to be another helping of the one-of-a-kind Christopher-Guest-and-cohorts stew, cooked slow and to perfection. The ingredients are no secret: a subculture framework as a base (here, the moviemaking industry), a group of actors skilled in improvisation as the meat, the “mockumentary” form as the vegetables, and the set decoration and mise-en-scène as spices. Guest has indeed perfected this stew.
At the very least, with a group like this he has reached perfection. Considering the amount of times they have collaborated (in similar mockumentaries such as This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind), it is no wonder that the comic genius can’t fail. With For Your Consideration, director/actor Guest and co-writing funny man Eugene Levy cleverly craft not only a hilarious parody of the film industry, but a praiseworthy critique of this industry through the inherent foolishness of the characters. And the set decoration and costuming are impeccable.
The film is about the making of a film called Home for Purim that, at first, seems just like another hack job. But it turns out that Home has generated some actor-centered Academy-Award-nomination buzz. In this mockumentary, Guest and Levy reveal the undercurrent of critical reviews surrounding award ceremonies and the effect of “Oscar buzz” on the people involved. While mostly pointing to the ridiculous, there are also some serious moments involving the sentiment that actors are real people with dreams and feeling as well. But don’t forget that this is Christopher Guest. Awkwardness overrides all.
With the huge cast of For Your Consideration, mapping out every subplot is hard. The film’s main concern is the cast of Home for Purim. Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara), a middle-aged actress on her last stretch, is nonetheless the project’s lead actress and the first of the bunch to encounter an Internet-based rumor that her performance may be Oscar-worthy. Victor Alan Miller (Harry Shearer) is another struggling actor who received fame from doing commercials. His agent Morley Orfkin (Eugene Levy) is well-practiced in the art of bullshit; although this representation of a Hollywood agent is very typical, here it is executed with Levy’s notable precision and humor. The director of the film-within-a-film is Jay Berman (Guest). He is grossly overweight and always eating ham sandwiches with his mouth open while watching the monitor. This depiction of Berman is just one of many that prove to be laugh-out-loud funny.
For Your Consideration also has the one-of-a-kind Parkey Posey doing her thing as an actress named Callie Webb. Webb originally entered show business with a stand-up routine called “No Penis Intended.” As the film shows, the unremarkable routine is not actually funny but – because it’s her – becomes hilarious. Only Posey could pull it off.
And yet there is more. The incredibly ridiculous-looking Jennifer Coolidge plays a producer of Home for Purim. She is a woman who inherited a fortune from her family’s diaper-pickup service. Throughout the movie she continuously shouts out ideas without thinking them through. Her behavior is on a level comparable to that of a monkey. Coolidge’s may be one of the most entertaining performances of all, but she still can’t hang with the unbearably funny Fred Willard.
Willard could make anything funny. His characterization of Chuck Porter imitates the personality of Access Hollywood reporters. Outfitted in flashy suits and wearing a faux-hawk that outdates his age by two decades, Willard again shows that his laconic ability to carry out conversations through subtly offensive remarks without a second thought can be pure hilarity.
Led by Guest, this remarkably funny crew has almost perfected a unique kind of mockumentary. It enables the type of comedy that makes the genius of the writing apparent while also leaving space for the actors to shine. If not for the satire on the industry, then at least for the mesh of talented actors For Your Consideration serves up another helping of Guest’s wonderful stew. If you have tasted it once and liked it, then it only gets better. If you did not like the original stew, you may not this time either. It may just be an acquired taste.
© 2006 Myles David Jewell. All rights reserved.
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