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There is something both enchanting and disorienting about watching a
Christopher Guest film that features conventional camera angles and a
narrative structure. It is a brave, and ultimately, a rewarding choice
for a director who has built his impeccable reputation on the strength
of his mockumentaries.
Like its predecessors Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration is largely improvised, and reunites the same winning cast. Gone, however, are several of the conventions of Guest's previous films. For Your Consideration avoids the need to give every last character an extended 'interview' segment and instead weaves minor characters naturally into the fabric of the story. The narrative structure also prevents Guest from relying too heavily on cuts to b-roll sight gags that, while funny, are never more than gags. By challenging himself to tell this story in the absence of these and other mockumentary techniques, Guest is allowed to focus instead on scenes that show how his characters really respond to one another in the moment.
Half the fun of course is waiting for all the familiar faces to show up, and discovering what crazy character they have inhabited this time around. All the usual suspects are back in For Your Consideration, playing a colourful array of Hollywood types. Insecurities, foibles - and just a few quirks - are in full display.
Jennifer Coolidge is a brilliantly clueless producer, and Eugene Levy has a nice turn as a somewhat smarmy agent who has no faith whatsoever in his client (Harry Shearer's Victor Ann Miller). Guest himself is hilarious playing director Jay Berman, and one only wishes that we got to see more of his rehearsals with the actors, as these are some of the funniest scenes in the film. Mike McKean and Bob Balaban are a fun team as the cowriters of Home for Purim, the movie-within-the-movie. Making his first appearance in a Guest film, Ricky Gervais grabs perhaps the biggest laugh of all with a line that I won't spoil here. And while Fred Willard and Jane Lynch are dealt very broad characters, their send-up of Access Hollywood is laugh-out-loud funny, and provides the perfect vehicle for Willard's boorish shtick.
John Michael Higgins is in amazing form as Corey Taft, sporting surreal philosophies on actors and life that outdo even his colour-worshipping character from A Mighty Wind. And the doe-eyed and endlessly endearing Christopher Moynihan tosses off several absolute gems in response to the inanity going on around him. Much like his character in the film, he's likely to go unnoticed in favour of some flashier performances, but deserves accolades of his own. He and Parker Posey have a sweet, unrehearsed chemistry playing actors in puppy love.
While it is impossible to give due screen time to all of the troupe's mainstays, some deserved better. Jim Piddock is dealt a potentially juicier part than he's had in the past, as the irritable AD who is all too aware that he's surrounded by idiots. But his screen time is far too short to let it amount to much, and fans wanting to see him play against type are better advised to check out his brilliant performance in See This Movie. Meanwhile, Ed Begley Jr. is hideously miscast as the film's token flamboyant gay man. Furthermore, having such recognizable actors as Claire Forlani and particularly Sandra Oh show up for bit parts in For Your Consideration is more distracting than anything, and breaks the illusion of the self-contained world that worked so nicely in Guest's previous efforts.
Despite all of the comedic talent on display however, this is Catherine O'Hara's show, and she more than delivers in her role as fading screen star Marilyn Hack. Her insecurities, dreams, and vulnerabilities are handled with such poignancy and humour that O'Hara fully deserves whatever accolades may come her way in the months to come. She is luminous.
If For Your Consideration comes up a little short, it is in the story department. The outline devised by Guest and Levy suffers somewhat from a lack of focus. If, as Guest insists, this film is not intended as a satire of Hollywood but is rather the tragicomic tale of what happens to someone when they are told that they deserve an award, we should be spending less time on all the Hollywood in-jokes and parodies, and more time with the characters themselves.
We don't learn quite enough about our main characters those portrayed by Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, and Parker Posey to really understand how monumental it is for them to be caught up in the Oscar hype. We see that, professionally, they desperately need the break. But we get no perspective on how this effects their personal lives, or changes the way that they relate to the people closest to them. Where are their families? Their friends? They don't seem to have any. And if that was the point in and of itself, it wasn't brought across clearly enough.
Whatever the film's shortcomings, it is the smaller details that are purely Guest which make this film a triumph and future classic: Guest's perfect intonation as he instructs one actor to deliver his line as though "Mommy is going now?", Jennifer Coolidge jumping in at the absolute perfect moment with "But what about me!?" in the midst of a heated argument that has nothing to do with her, or the sight of Harry Shearer suddenly wearing Rachael Harris' hat to help him get into character. These are the small moments that give Guest's works the rare distinction of being films that get progressively funnier with each viewing.
My hope for the next Guest film is that it continues to stretch the troupe in the way that these last two films have done. Ideally, we'll see an improvised, narrative comedy with some heart, all the expected hilarity and a little more plot structure. Until then, here it is, for your consideration
I'm surprised by the number of negative reviews here for what I thought
was in many ways Christopher Guest's most developed movie yet. Granted,
you either like his movies or not, but as someone who loved Waiting for
Guffman, Best in Show and Mighty Wind equally, I was in no way
disappointed by For Your Consideration.
Maybe some of the humor here is easier to appreciate if you're Jewish, but that can't account for more than 5% of the jokes, and all of the actors were great. Particular kudos to O'Hara (as usual), Shearer, Lynch and Posey. The ET/Charlie Rose/Ebert & Roeper spoofs were hilarious and dead-on. The ending of the movie was truer than that of his previous films, and the ever expanding cast of Guest players made the viewing experience more fun than in the past (Sandra Oh, Ricky Gervais etc.).
My theory is that it's hard to approach a new Christopher Guest movie without justifiably expecting a lot, and great expectations often lead to disappointment. I was anxious to see For Your Consideration, but found it to be rewarding, very funny, and a little more poignant than usual (a good thing). Give it a chance and it'll grow on you.
I truly enjoyed this film, as did most everyone else at the World
Premier in Toronto. Firstly, I haven't seen Spinal Tap, but of all the
rest of his films, this is my favorite. His decision to depart the
mockumentary format worked wonders in his favor. He didn't change his
format so dramatically that you're unaware you're watching a Guest
movie, it still carries his stamp. What he's done with this format is
find a way to shave off all the somewhat boring bits that his other
movies had durring the middle. Every second of this film was completely
entertaining and will have you on the floor with laughter. The way he
pokes fun of the silliness surrounding the Academy Awards is hilarious.
Guest himself probably gave my favorite performance as the director of "Home for Purim", with Jennifer Collidge coming in second as the producer. I truly can't wait to see this movie again when it goes wide release.
I look forward to Christopher Guest movies in the same way Ralphie did
for his much beloved Red Ryder BB Gun in "A Christmas Story". Drenched
with his deadpan wit, Guest's mockumentaries have been such
well-targeted show business satires that it's hard to know when the
script stops and the improvised reality begins. But that's a lot of the
fun with his films, even though his newest is easily the most
structured of the bunch. Along with constant co-writer and co-star
Eugene Levy, Guest picks a target ripe with possibilities in this 2006
comedy, the Oscar-baiting season prior to the nominations, and
surprisingly foregoes the direct interview format in favor of a more
traditional narrative. I have to admit I miss some of this dynamic
because the on-camera realism resulted in some of the funniest moments
in the previous films.
Gratefully, what has been kept from his other films is Guest's stellar ensemble company of comic actors, and this time an even larger cast has been gathered, none of whom disappoint in this outing. The plot focuses on the production of a low-budget studio-bound film, "Home for Purim", a WWII-era family melodrama about a Jewish family in Georgia coping with the mother's terminal illness and the daughter's emergence as a lesbian. Directed by an authoritarian nebbish with an Art Garfunkel hairdo named Jay Berman, the film looks to be an overly sincere piece of tripe, but a blogger on one of the movie sites has predicted leading lady Marilyn Hack, a resigned, over-the-hill B-actress, will be nominated for an Oscar. This starts an Oscar buzz that engulfs the two other nominal principals of the movie, hot-dog pitchman Victor Allen Miller and "serious" actress Callie Webb, and the tidal wave of publicity drastically changes the direction and marketing campaign of the movie even before it's completed.
Guest and Levy fully capture the superficial pandering that occurs when the buzz is in full swing, and they particularly ridicule the ignorance and outdated thinking of those who find themselves in this lightning-in-a-bottle situation. There are acidic jabs at all the infotainment programs - "Entertainment Tonight", "MTV TRL", "The Charlie Rose Show" and "Ebert & Roeper" but this is character-driven farce, and several stand out. In a brave turn as Marilyn, the wonderful and ever-dependable Catherine O'Hara superbly captures the almost overnight evolution from forgotten, timeworn actress into botox-infused, cleavage-squeezing A-lister wannabe. Harry Shearer gets his best showcase yet as the put-upon Victor whose mouthy agent Morley Orfkin refuses to take his calls until the buzz hits them. As Callie, Parker Posey is more in reactive mode here, though she has a funny Sandra Bernhard-like bit with her character's one-woman show, "No Penis Intended".
Everyone else gets less screen time, but they all provide memorably riotous contributions Guest as Berman, Levy as Morley, Jennifer Coolidge as clueless producer Whitney Taylor Brown, John Michael Higgins as bromide-spouting publicist Corey Taft, Don Lake and Michael Hitchcock as the Love It/Hate It movie critics, Michael McKean and Bob Balaban as the academic screenwriters, Ed Begley Jr. as Marilyn's fey hairdresser (and biggest fan), Ricky Gervais as the oily studio honcho, and best of all, as the entertainment TV co-hosts, Fred Willard as mohawk-moussed Chuck Porter and Jane Lynch as gam-showcasing Mary Hart-knockoff Cindy Martin. I imagine Guest's reputation is the reason you see such high-profile actors like Sandra Oh and Craig Bierko in nothing more than bit parts here. The film takes a sharp turn toward the end that adds surprising vitriol to the laughs, and the vituperative tone makes the proceedings all the more devastating and resonant. More like "A Mighty Wind" with its dramatic undercurrents, this one is not as laugh-out-loud as "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show", but it shows a continuing maturation in Guest's film-making technique that is most welcome.
I love this acting troupe. They are a well tuned machine. Though this
movie is perhaps a little "inside" of the Hollywood Movie Industry, and
the publicity machine on which it is driven, all of the regulars and
the new faces invited into the fold give wonderful performances and
play their parts with just the right amount of camp with their tongues
in their cheeks. I mean after all. don't many of us WANT to know about
the inside of the industry? The duo entertainment reporters ( Jane
Lynch and Fred Willard) are hilarious and Catherine O'hara's
performance is masterful. (do I hear Oscar Buzzzz?) But that is not to
say any of the cast's performances were not noteworthy. My whole family
had a great time. This is not meant to be a Great panoramic epic, this
is good clean hilarity from some of our favorite actors.
If you are a fan of "Best in Show", Waiting for Guffman etc, or you just want to get to know these gifted actors, DO go see this film, nap before you go so you can be happy and rested and hear the inside jokes that spark the guffaws heard throughout the theater. Zaina
I'm also surprised by some of the negative commentary around 'For your
Consideration'. The satire seemed to me to be to be quite precise -
particularly in its analysis of the average actor's life - which is a
lot more like "For Your Consideration" or Ricky Gervais's brilliant
"The Extras" than anything you're likely to see on Entertainment
Tonight that is for sure.
Having studied method acting over several years (a long time ago), and having worked as an extra at different low points in my life (never ever again), I have to say that I laughed till I cried. Without giving the ending away,Marilyn Hacke's closing scene is so on the money - what a cracker!
Acting, actor training and film are all open to exploitation of the gullible because so many people are desperate to be part of it; consequently it's an area ripe for satire. For me, this was more on the money than "Waiting for Guffman" although I enjoyed that too. For your consideration has sharper edges. I think it's great that Ricky Gervais performs in this film. Gervaise is such an 'English' comic whilst Guest's sensibilities are very American - but in the shared fascination with human idiosyncracies, banalities and foibles, they both create a very contemporary form of the comedy of manners.
Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. In an impressive string of
wonderful mockumentary farces over the past few years, guiding lights
Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, and their brilliant comedic acting
ensemble, have joyfully savaged the self-important cultural "worlds" of
small town amateur theater ("Waiting for Guffman"), dog shows ("Best in
Show") and folk music ("A Mighty Wind").
But a winning formula can't go on forever unchanged, nor should we expect it to. Inevitably, the group have hit a bump in the road with their latest film, "For Your Consideration," a send-up of Hollywood movie making and the assorted vanities of movie makers. Not that it's bad. But compared to those earlier works, it isn't inspired; it doesn't grab you with its efforts to lampoon; and the performances of the actors - always uniformly of a high caliber in most of their movies is highly variable in this new movie. Perhaps the theme hits too close to home: it's hard to gain the distance necessary to properly ridicule your own ethos, your own cultural world. Or maybe it's just that the recipe Guest and Levy have used to such delightful advantage has just gotten old, for viewers and for Guest's company.
The plot, for what it's worth, concerns a film within a film: the making of a new movie, the ethnically freighted "Home for Purim," which is later rewritten and retitled "Home for Thanksgiving" to broaden its commercial box office appeal. All the stereotypes one expects are on hand: the avaricious executive producers; the harried director; the screenwriters, pained by the incremental decimation of their work; the aging stars in decline; the young up and comings; the vain chase after that holiest of grails: an Oscar, the hangers on the parasitic, disingenuous talent agent, talk show hosts, film critics and entertainment reporters. They're all here.
Parker Posey (young actress possibly on the way up), Catherine O'Hara ((veteran actress on the way out), Jennifer Coolidge (ditzy producer), and Eugene Levy (actors' agent) provide decent turns but none of these superb talents gives a truly inspired performance here. Harry Shearer is better as a long-suffering actor who is glad enough just to star in a feature film after years of making commercials, Oscar or no Oscar. But the comedic scene stealers in this movie are three pairs of actors who play off each other to wonderful effect: Fred Willard and Jane Lynch as a TV entertainment reporting duo, Bob Balaban and Michael McKean as the beleaguered screenwriters, and Don Lake and Michael Hitchcock as Siskel-Ebert style TV critics. There are several competent cameo contributors as well, the best of whom is Carrie Aizley, a movie journalist.
This is decent fare, but I think Guest and Levy need to re-imagine their formula for successful farce. I never thought the day would come when I would regard a comedy written by David Mamet as superior to work by Guest & Levy, but here's a tip: if you want to see a good send-up of movie making, try Mamet's 2000 film, "State and Main." My grades: 6.5/10 (low B) (Seen on 11/15/06)
I don't have much to say about "For Your Consideration," except that I
liked it, in spite of the negative reviews it received, and I wanted to
say that here in case other viewers, like me, put off viewing it
because the reviews put us off.
"For Your Consideration" is a small, brief (86 minutes), sweet, funny movie. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as "Best in Show" (few movies are) but I liked it better than "Mighty Wind," which I also liked.
Christopher Guest's usual crew is in its usual fine form. Catherine O'Hara is funny in a whole new way, with at least one scene that is quite poignant and unforgettable, at least to struggling artists. John Michael Higgins does a very funny William H. Macy-like character. Jane Lynch is dead-on as an "Entertainment Tonight" style tabloid "journalist."
I even liked the ventriloquist Nina Conti -- and I normally run from the room when a ventriloquist comes on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a gigantic "Waiting for Guffman" fan. I also really liked "Best In
Show." I thought "A Mighty Wind," while not great, was creative and
tender. I saw "For Your Consideration" today and while there were funny
moments peppered throughout, the film comes off as half-baked. I sat
there until the last credit rolled trying to like this film, and
I appreciate that so many actors have joined up with Guest to be in his movies, but there are now so many Guest "regulars" that there is barely any character development. "A Mighty Wind" tried to remedy this by giving each character one big quirk. "Consideration" seems to use this tactic sparingly... both a blessing and a curse. What I miss is the intimacy of "Guffman," where we got to know 5-6 characters very well. "Consideration" comes off less as an ensemble cast, and more as a long string of cameos.
Catherine O'Hara gives a brilliant, nuanced performance~ I wish we had gotten to know more about her character.
*Definitely spoilers here!* As other reviewers have pointed out, "Consideration" has a very similar ending to "Guffman." But whereas the ending of "Guffman" is somewhat bemusing (Corky talking about his shop), I thought the ending of "Consideration" was cruel, predictable, and saddening.
Guest seems to be pushing the envelope with Hollywood in this feature,
but it isn't funny it is random, chaotic, and emotional when it
should not be. Being a fan of Guest's earlier work, I was initially
excited about this outing, but upon viewing it just didn't gel together
emotionally or passionately like Guests other work. This seemed like
Guest made a film to spoof the industry, but instead created a dismal
look at how comedy can self destruct, even with your regulars trying to
make us laugh.
Guest announced in 2005 that he would stop making the "mockumentary" because he thought they were not funny any longer. Hoping to see bigger and braver things from this pioneering director, I hoped "For Your Consideration" would be a fresh chapter in his repertoire of films, but alas, it was nothing of the sort. To begin, the characters seemed stale and uncharismatic. As a "mockumentary", the audience may have had the opportunity to see these actors consume their roles, to build unknown back stories, or to challenge themselves to take their character to the limit, but it never happened as a full-feature film. This was a regular comedy that fruitfully never picked up speed, never pushed the limit, and tried to use similar Guest techniques that would have only worked as a mockumentary. It began to implode with the characters, since we couldn't see them talking directly to us, we had to follow their moves watch them as they failed, and attempted to make us laugh with their irregularities. Again, what would typically make us laugh in a mockumentary-styled film failed at this level. To demonstrate the error, let's begin with Catherine O'Hara. In Guest's work, she is typically a staple of comedy. Her portrayal of Mickey Crabbe in "A Might Wind" was phenomenal, but in this film it seemed forced, unfunny, and catastrophic. From the opening scene, O'Hara never really defines her character. Is she pushing for freedom, is she ignorant to the truth, or is she trying to fit within the Hollywood scene? Valid questions that never quite get off the ground as we are bombarded with more and more "guest" characters that push this little film into non-existence. Harry Shearer is another example, typically he is genuine in his roles for Guest, but in this feature he just felt stale. He wasn't trying to be funny, nor did he push any level of comedy. The entire hot dog bit was cliché, as was Eugene Levy's performance as his agent. I think that is where problems occurred in this film there wasn't anything original about Guest's characters in this film, and I think the actors knew it. Fred Willard was the only humorous element to this film giving us the exact same performance as he did in "Best in Show". This may not have been a mockumentary, but it would have been a mockumentary that would have saved this little feature.
Guest had trouble behind the camera with this film. His camera work seemed staged and oblique. There was no questioning scene that pushed the limit or forced us to see Guest in a new light. He teased the audience, giving us hopes that midway through this film he would transform it into a mockumentary, but alas it never happened. The stages were set, but nothing happened. I couldn't tell if it was the actors that weren't as funny, or Guest's vision was just weak. As a viewer, you find yourself standing outside of this film. You know what Guest's potential can be, yet when you watch this you know that there are just actors playing actors playing preset roles. The addition of Ricky Gervais, Sandra Oh, and Rachael Harris made this Guest film feel like a downtrodden Woody Allen film. Was it a homage to him? The building blocks of this story were weak, thus the entire structure seemed to fall when the pieces fell apart. Comedy was horrible, the story was non-existent, and the actors just seemed used and tired of the time, place, and story.
One other aspect that bewildered me, is anyone else tired of the sad, unsung heroes of Christopher Guest's films seeming like they are being stepped on each minute of the feature. They were fun in "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show", they were endearing in "A Mighty Wind", but in this film they just felt hurt, and at times violent. While I did chuckle at Willard showing up at the non-nominees doors the next day, I thought that crossed a line from funny to violently sad. Again, I did laugh, but not in that boisterous "Christopher Guest" sort of way. I think that best defines this film, it had its moments, but overall it just felt bland. There was no flavor. The actors realized this, but Guest continued with this sad little project. Not a positive mark on his report card.
Overall, I wasn't impressed. This late in the game there is a level of necessity needed, either step up your choice of films (like direct a drama or science fiction) or continue growing the genre you have exploited. "For Your Consideration" will have some chuckling moments, but nothing that screams amazing. Guest could have strengthened his role as a comic genius by creating this same film under the guise of a mockumentary and it would have been phenomenal. There was a lacking air of originality with this film and the actors genuinely didn't fit their parts. This was a sad film that could have been more. I saw the potential, but nothing came out of it. I will continue to give Guest a shot with his amazing back list of films, but a continuation of this type of film will lessen his appeal. Watch it once, but not a film to keep in your collection.
Grade: ** out of *****
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