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Bowfinger (1999)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 13 August 1999 (USA)
When a desperate movie producer fails to get a major star for his bargain basement film, he decides to shoot the film secretly around him.

Director:

Frank Oz

Writer:

Steve Martin

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6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Martin ... Bowfinger
Eddie Murphy ... Kit Ramsey / Jiff Ramsey
Heather Graham ... Daisy
Christine Baranski ... Carol
Jamie Kennedy ... Dave
Barry Newman ... Kit's Agent
Adam Alexi-Malle ... Afrim
Kohl Sudduth ... Slater
Terence Stamp ... Terry Stricter
Robert Downey Jr. ... Jerry Renfro
Alejandro Patiño ... Sanchez (as Alejandro Patino)
Alfred De Contreras Alfred De Contreras ... Martinez
Ramiro Fabian Ramiro Fabian ... Hector
Johnny Sanchez ... Luis
Claude Brooks Claude Brooks ... Freddy
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Storyline

Forty-nine year old Bobby Bowfinger is the owner/president of a Hollywood-based production company, Bowfinger International Pictures. The company has yet to produce a film, Bobby's personal net worth is virtually zero, and the company only has $2,184 to its name, $1 invested into it personally by Bobby every week since he first decided he wanted to make a movie when he was a child. Bobby believes his fortunes will change when his accountant Afrim changes hats and writes a science-fiction alien invasion screenplay that Bobby thinks all studios will clamor for and has Oscar written all over it. He has a small stable of followers who support his vision in being part of this movie, which eventually includes Daisy as the lead actress, she a stereotypical small town girl looking to make it big in Hollywood. Having just arrived in town, she does not know her way around the Hollywood system,... except on her proverbial back. Bobby is not averse to telling bald-faced lies in his singular focus... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They're going to lie, cheat and steal - but in a nice way. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sex-related material and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Universal

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 August 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bowfinger's Big Thing See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,062,550, 15 August 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$66,384,775

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$98,625,775
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Eastman Color)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Oz encouraged improvisation during select scenes, and occasionally, the result wound up in the film. Some instances of this are Robert Downey, Jr. saying "and all this" while flipping through the script of Chubby Rain, Eddie Murphy asking his manager to find him a retarded slave role so he can win an Academy Award, and Steve Martin saying, "It could've worked" after Chubby Rain was shut down. See more »

Goofs

A "bounce card" (light reflecting screen) is reflected in the window of Kit's car. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Robert K. Bowfinger: Wow. Great script. Great script!
[to his dog]
Robert K. Bowfinger: Betsy? It's now or never. We are gonna make a movie.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the last credits roll, Kit's line, "I saved the world! I saved it," can be heard. See more »

Alternate Versions

DVD "deleted scenes" section contains a much longer version of the "this script, this masterpiece" scene which in a Martin monologue explains why an accountant would write a sci-fi script. His first script, about the exciting world of accounting, was rejected in favor of something that at least has aliens in it. The title is "Star Wars," but that will have to be changed. Another scene features the most avant-garde dry-cleaning place you'll ever see, explaining better the "Kit's dry cleaning" material later on. See more »


Soundtracks

El Burro Polillos
Performed by Mariachi Reyes del Aserradero
Courtesy of Corason Records
By Arrangement with Rounder Records and Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Under-appreciated Satire
8 June 2005 | by eht5ySee all my reviews

Given Tom Cruise's recent unstable behavior, it might be the right time to revisit 'Bowfinger,' Steve Martin and Frank Oz's highly under-appreciated satire of the side of Hollywood we mere mortals aren't supposed to see.

In Hollywood, there are no secrets--everyone knows who's secretly gay or insane, and who's slept with who, when, where, and what they got out of it. But no one wants powerful enemies, and in the quickly shifting landscape of stardom, where one can transform almost overnight and with no apparent or predictable logic from b-list character actor or teen idol into a-list mega-star and Oscar-caliber actor who can open hundred-million dollar movies and make or break the careers of his/her friends and acquaintances, no one wants to be the one who spills the scandalous beans.

For this reason, 'Bowfinger'--the 'Spinal Tap' of contemporary Hollywood--was barely made, and upon its release was greeted with a politely, barely restrained gasp of horror from everyone on the inside who recognized Martin's unusually liberal borrowings from the gossip files to construct this smart, dry, tastefully executed comedy about a has-been-before-he-ever-was actor/director who concocts a scheme to sell his hopelessly bad sci-fi action film project to a major studio by surreptitiously following and filming a major action film star, manipulating his behavior when able, and then later patching a film together with the clandestine footage and a few shots with a body-double. Little does Bowfinger (the loser, played with typical charm and intelligence by the great Steve Martin) know that the film star he means to exploit--Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy)--is a paranoid, delusional basket case of psychological problems barely being held together (though, one suspects, also being held at the edge of sanity) by his mentors at MindHead, a bizarre, cultish, mind-controlling religion obviously meant to stand in for the Church of Scientology, the increasingly infamous faith/life method of numerous Hollywood stars, most notoriously Tom Cruise and John Travolta (musician Beck has allegedly also recently joined the ranks of Scientology, at the behest of his father and his girlfriend, the sister of actor Giovanni Ribisi, also a Scientologist).

Bowfinger assembles a motley crew of Hollywood wannabes, which include the fabulous Christine Baranski as Carol, an aging stage actress who drives around town listening to old recordings of herself singing show tunes; Heather Graham as Daisy, a presumably naive young beauty who steps off the bus in L.A. and immediately sets about trying to sleep her way to the top (Daisy is based on nutso actress Anne Heche, who exploited Martin before moving up the food chain to a public lesbian affair with Ellen Degeneres, whose sit-com was then at peak popularity); Adam Alexi-Malle as Afrim, Bowfinger's corpulent Pakistani accountant and the author of 'Chubby Rain,' the ludicrous alien invasion script which Bowfinger believes will catapult him to fame and respectability; Jamie Kennedy as Bowfinger's camera operator, who smuggles equipment out of the studio lot where he works as a low-level crew man; and Kohl Sudduth as Bowfinger's sweet but vapid excuse for a heart-throb. This gang of misfits works well together in various gags lampooning the film industry.

But the film is stolen entirely by Eddie Murphy, first as Kit Ramsey, whose paranoid rants include the observation that a script his agent has offered him must be racist because the letter 'k' appears in it a number of times divisible by three ('KKK' appears in this script 111 times!) and the twisting of a remark made by the agent about a script--'it's not Shakespeare'--into a racist slur ('Shakespeare?!? Shake-a-Spear! You callin' me a spear-chucker!?!), and later as Jiff, Kit's nerdy and socially inept twin brother, who unwittingly stumbles into Bowfinger's scheme and agrees both to serve as a stunt/body double and errand boy for the film ('Running errands would be a real boost for me!' he gleefully remarks).

One of the great things about 'Bowfinger' is the opportunity to see Eddie Murphy create two ridiculous characters the way he once did so frequently on Saturday Night Live, before 'Bevery Hills Cop' send his ego to Mars. He looks like he's having the time of his life, and the fabulous talent he has wasted so frequently on mediocre to painfully bad star vehicles like 'Coming to America,' 'Harlem Nights,' or 'Vampire in Brooklyn' is once again apparent, and triumphant. Together, Martin and Murphy remind us how comedy should be made: with intelligence, humility, generosity--and, most importantly, scathing wit.

Scientology gets fairly merciless treatment in the form of MindHead, a cult-like corporate religion led by Terry Stricter (Terence Stamp), who soothes the paranoiac Kit with new-agey acronym lessons (K.I.T=Keep It Together) and chastens him not to 'show it to the Laker Girls' when he hears the voice of Teddy Kennedy instructing him to 'bring the Laker Girls down a peg or two.' Given Tom Cruise's recent weirdness and the fact that he openly travels with a cadre of Scientologists who function like a Secret Service detail, it's not hard to suspect that Kit Ramsey was written with Tom Cruise in mind (the role was originally written for Keanu Reeves but was ultimately changed and offered to Murphy).

Murphy's presence, ironically, may have undermined this film in its initial release, as audiences many audiences left theaters disappointed, having expected more of a traditional slapstick comedy with Murphy in a larger role (his scenes are easily the funniest, but Kit and Jiff or secondary characters). But it's well worth revisiting for its quality and its scathing critique of the business of Hollywood.


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