For Your Consideration Review
By Joe Lozito
Christopher Guest and his merry band of satirists have enjoyed a nearly unparalleled string of comedic gems. "Best in Show"
, "A Mighty Wind"
and "Waiting for Guffman" (to say nothing of "This is Spinal Tap", the ne plus ultra of parodies). So it's not the end of the world that his latest offering, "For Your Consideration" is a rare misstep - a scattershot collection of grotesque characters and obvious humor about a small independent film whose cast gets caught up in some idle Internet Oscar buzz.
Mr. Guest's films are never what you'd call polished, but "Consideration" looks just plain half-baked, as if they printed the wrong take or dropped the negative. Even the comedic timing is off, which is all but unheard of for Mr. Guest's returning cast of comedic dignitaries. Catherine O'Hara is charming as always, but her character, the over-the-hill Marilyn Hack, takes a turn for the bizarre that favors caricature over heart. Eugene Levy (who co-wrote the script with Mr. Guest) and Harry Shearer generate laughter just by showing up, but they have little to do here as a loser agent and his loser client.
It's not all bad though, there are some glimmers of the comedy that could have been. Ricky Gervais shows up to donate a welcomed dose of his David Brent shtick. John Michael Higgins does some nice work as an out-of-his-depth PR man. And Jane Lynch does a pitch-perfect parody of those hollow "Entertainment Tonight"-type hosts. Parker Posey puts in a worthy effort to find the humanity in her character, but she's given too little to do and ends up looking lost.
The tone of the film is what's most troubling. The humor is alternatively cornball Vaudevillian Yiddish jokes (the film within a film is called "Home For Purim") and pointed jabs at Hollywood which are at times downright mean-spirited (Fred Willard, usually a highlight, pays a vicious early-morning visit to the homes of those snubbed for the award). The film's conceit - that "Purim" is getting Internet Oscar buzz - also doesn't quite work. The scenes we see of "Purim", which I'm assuming is supposed to be a parody of self-indulgent independent cinema, are over-acted so badly that the idea that it could ever succeed, let alone garner awards hype is preposterous. Likewise, where the film goes ("Purim" is actually a contender and causes strife within the cast), doesn't hold up.
Mr. Guest has visited the acting world before with "Guffman" and he has, in fact, turned his eye towards Hollywood with 1989's little-seen Kevin Bacon country boy-hits-the-big-time black comedy "The Big Picture". But where Mr. Guest's past comedies (particularly "Show" and "Wind") we're made with love for their materials and, especially, their characters, "Consideration" appears to come from a place of anger. I'm not saying Hollywood doesn't deserve a good skewering - quite the contrary, more power to any filmmaker daring enough to bite the hand that feeds them. But what should have been the "Waiting for Guffman" of Hollywood ends up unworthy of consideration.