Hollywood send-up. No-name actors are making a low-budget period drama called "Home for Purim," when an anonymous post on the Internet suggests that one performance is Oscar-worthy. Then, two more cast members get Oscar-related press: buzz in "Variety" and appearances on TV prompt the studio executives to insist on changes in the script in anticipation of a blockbuster. Jump ahead a few months to the days before Oscar nominees are announced: just the possibility of a nomination has changed the actors' lives. Agents, publicists, make-up artists, local celebrity reporters, and other bit players round out the backstage ensemble. Hooray for Hollywood!Written by
After scoring a number of successes with his mockumentary style, Christopher Guest strays slightly from his trusted formula to relate a tale of a bunch of disillusioned mediocrities dreaming of better things as they ply their trade. The problem with this one though is that it's probably a little too close to home for comfort. While the film pokes fun at these people, it also pokes fun at their aspirations, as if it is laughing down at them and wants us to join in which leaves a bitter aftertaste that isn't particularly pleasant.
Guest's big stumbling block is that, for his Oscar buzz strand to work, the actors in the film within a film have to be reasonably good so, in order to provide himself with a comedy backdrop, he has no choice but to make the film itself a joke that would never get green-lighted in the real world. The plight of the screenwriter, forced to compromise his vision in order to see his work reach the screen is touched upon, but the Comic Strip bunch did it better back in the 80s with their Hollywoodisation of the British coal miners' strike. There's also just a little too much familiarity about characters such as the clueless director, the agent who avoids his clients unless they're doing well, and the interfering movie executive.
While the entire cast are terrific it's probably the hard-working Fred Willard who steals the show as a slightly insane presenter of a cheesy TV movie show. The others have to work too hard against this aura of pathetic-ness in which Guest has dipped them to garner many laughs, and as a result it all comes across as a little too subdued.
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