Date watched: 1/6/11
Christopher Guest has made a career in the Mockumentary film "genre" started way back in 1984's "This is Spinal Tap." It seems that this movie, the only one he didn't write, incidentally, gave him the bug of using fictional characters as cartoon characters in the real world. Each of his films is very self-aware and he encourages his cast, usually a combination of Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Katherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, and himself, to improvise dialogue, making the movie sound more real and conversational--something that helps when you're trying to live in the documentary realm.
Guest's movies that he wrote and directed, "Waiting for Guffman," which brought us the hilarious and flamboyant Corky St. Clair, "Best in Show," where Parker Posey got to turn her crazy knob up to 11, "A Mighty Wind," which starts to wane a bit, but is still very funny, and "For Your Consideration."
"Consideration" is the story of Marilyn Hack (Katherine O'Hara), an aging actress who is trying to cling to her youth. The first thing you'll notice about this movie if you've seen Guest's other films is that it is no longer filmed documentary-style in the traditional sense. Instead, it goes through an "Entertainment Tonight" style TV show starring Fred Willard and Jane Lynch as Chuck and Cindy, the hosts.
Willard and Lynch steal the show as aging hosts trying to stay current with their mohawks and ridiculous outfits. They follow the stars of the made-up film, "Home for Purim," around teasing them with Oscar buzz rumors and jabs about their failing careers. Meanwhile, these hangers-on having nothing to show for their lives except living for the next celebrity gossip or absurd clothing trend. The movie goes the extra mile to demonstrate that while the people with the real talent are often self-absorbed and a little cuckoo, the ones who have made their careers out of tracking them down and humiliating them are pathetic and loathsome.
Marilyn Hack is like Mel Brooks meets Norma Desmond. Her last name says it all, as her performances are laughable and empty, yet she gets caught up in the rumor that an Oscar might be in her future. She wishes to be young again, as many movie stars do, and blows her cash on botox, rendering her emotionless and permanently ruining any chances of an Oscar in her future. This story could be sad without Guest's hilarious writing. Hack eventually ends up an acting teacher whose only sense of fulfillment comes from trying to one-up her pupils.
The other characters, such as Harry Shearer's Victor Allen Miller, Jennifer Coolidge's Whitney Taylor Brown, and Parker Posey's Callie Webb each have their own stories, some shallow, some not, that eviscerate the cult of Hollywood further.
Also, what is it with Parker Posey? She can be really weird looking in some movies, and super cute in this one. Ah, the power of make up.
Ultimately, "For Your Consideration" "documents" a film that has gone bad due to its ineffective writers, idiotic director, selfish actors, and vapid producer. it all culminates in a piece that none of them is really proud of, but all of them were complicit in making.
While the film isn't as funny or entertaining as "Best in Show" or "Waiting for Guffman," it does have a certain charm to it. It stands as a parody of both the Hollywood experience and those pathetic enough to do nothing but pore over "Us Weekly" to see that the stars are "just like them."