For Your Consideration

For Your Consideration

Film review by: Witney Seibold


            Christopher Guest had a mild indie hit in 1996 with his local theater mockumentary “Waiting for Guffman.” It was one of the funniest films I had seen in a while, and remains a classic in my eyes. He has since returned to the mockumentary well two more times making “Best in Show” (about dog show competitors, and “A Mighty Wind,” about a public TV folk concert. A good way to go for a member of Spiňal Tap.

            Since, “Guffman,” though, Guest’s films have slipped a bit. The cast (he has a large regular troupe of funny and talented people) are all still funny and talented, but, I dunno, the timing seems to be off. The actors seem to be there to have fun rather than to make something edgy and funny for the audience. This is all well and good, but the late great Gene Siskel once has a gage for measuring a film: is it more entertaining than watching the same actors having lunch? Some of Guest’s films would be more fun if the actors were merely dining.


            “For Your Consideration” is still a largely improvised comedy, but abandons Guest’s usual mockumentary style, and makes a straightforward drama. “FYC” follows the making of a small indie film called “Home for Purim” about a group of southern Jews (yuk yuk) reuniting and experiencing family conflicts. Starring in the film are possibly-great Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara), ex-TV pitchman Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer), and Serious Actress Callie Webb (Parker Posey). Running the film are clueless director Jay Berman (Guest), and writers Phillip and Lane (Michael McKean and Bob Balaban). The production goes about as well as can be expected, what with the clashing egos, the writers worried about improv, and agents creeping about the edges trying to push screentime on their clients. When reporters from a vapid showbiz tabloid show (Fred Willard and Jane Lynch, both terrific) begin spreading “Oscar Buzz” about this production, everyone goes into conniptions. Behavior drastically changes on set, just over the thought that maybe, they might possibly in the future be nominated for an award. The title is changed. Everything is made “Hollywood safe” before our very eyes.


            “For Your Consideration” is an interesting analysis of the power of that ineffable Hollywood force: “buzz.” Buzz doesn’t carry any indicators of genuine talent with it. Few know how it gets started, and there’s no control over it. But somehow, it’s largely become the driving force behind many commercial studio decisions. “FYC” a fun satire on the mechanics of the all-important Hollywood Oscar system.


            Problem is, it’s not all that funny. It’s more amusing and bemused than laugh-out-loud hysterical. There are great and funny performances in it, to be sure. Willard and Lynch are perfect as the vapid TV hosts, Eugene Levy is great the slimiest possible agent, and John Michael Higgins gets the biggest laughs as an ego-driven producer. The best performance comes from O’Hara, though, who turns from a humble actress into a botox-injected nightmare. There was even, appropriately enough, Oscar buzz for O’Hara surrounding the film.


            Guest, though, has made funnier films, and had more biting satire. What could have been an outright damning of the Oscar system, comes across as more of a quiet tsk-tsk-ing. What could have been an outright farce, becomes a safe and genial comedy for the over-70 set. It’s a pleasant film, but has not the teeth it wants.

             Also appearing are Guest regulars Ed Begley, Jr., Paul Dooley, Larry Miller, and Jennifer Coolidge.

Published in: on August 27, 2007 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: