The films of Christopher Guest are an acquired taste, but for a small group of dedicated fans they are the crème of comedy. Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind all exemplify the best in improvisational screen comedy with a regular and dedicated cast of some of the finest and funniest actors working today. With For You Consideration, Guest and the gang take aim at Hollywood and the nature of Tinsletown’s hype machine, which both giveth and taketh away.
The movie is about a movie actually; a family drama called “Home for Purim”, that takes place in the American south in the 1940s. At first there isn’t a lot of faith in the movie, which is about as contrived as it sounds, but an off-handed comment on set implies that there is some Oscar buzz for lead actress Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara). Further hype starts to register for lead actor and hot dog spokesperson Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer) as well as other actors in the cast and soon “Home for Purim” looks like a lock for some serious award recognition. But just as everyone starts to believe their own hype, the rug gets pulled out from underneath them in a typically comedic fashion.
O’Hara and Shearer are joined by a stellar group including Eugene Levy, John Michael Higgins, Ricky Gervais, Parker Posey Michael McKean, Bob Balaban, Ed Bagley, Jr. and Fred Willard. Guest uses these actors to great effect, especially Willard as a Pat O’Brien-like infotainment host who manages to suck-up and condescend in the same breath. The movie is full of a lot of pointed and cutting swipes at the Hollywood mechanism of building something up only to tear it down. “Home for Purim” is a surrogate for a lot of movies that “people in the know” tell us are going to change the world only for people to find out later that the Emperor has no clothes. There are a lot of laugh out loud moments with double-talking agents and self-righteous auteurs, but I don’t think that the material is as sharp as it really could have been.
I also don’t think that For Your Consideration is as good as Guest’s past efforts, but taken against a lot of other things people try to pass of as comedy these days, it’s still pretty funny. If you’re a fan of dry wit, satire and back-handed swipes at the Hollywood industrial complex then I think you’re going to enjoy this and it may be especially appropriate for a little pre-Oscar show hilarity this February.