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The hype for this film was huge as far as the places I go for my movie news. There were rumors that Christopher Guest had retired his brand of improv mockumentary, and just the mention of his return with For Your Consideration brought a smile to my face. I will admit I haven’t seen either Waiting for Guffman (if anyone has it please let me borrow) or A Mighty Wind, however, Best in Show is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen and This is Spinal Tap, while not Guest’s, holds onto the same criteria and is a classic of the canon. Although Consideration is not a mockumentary per se, it definitely follows the same rubric as the past films with a loose outline that is expanded upon by the cast to later be edited into the feature that is released. There are some priceless moments here, especially the overall satire of the industry they are a part of, it’s just too bad that there really isn’t anything on screen that’s interesting or engrossing. The joke that this campy, over-the-top movie with hammy performances could garner Oscar buzz is laughable and a great starting point. Unfortunately, once it started, you soon learn that’s the only joke the filmmakers are going to use for its entirety.

What makes films like Best in Show and Spinal Tap so engrossing and funny is that they take a group of people and follow them during a single activity. We learn about them and are allowed to root for and against fully fleshed out people. For Your Consideration has gone away from this pattern and instead decided to mock the industry rather than the people in it. This tactic falls on its face, though, as the characters don’t grow or develop, they just do their thing to further advance the story until the final reveal occurs with the Oscar nominations. Rather than tell the actors’ stories we just see pawns acting flaky and getting their hopes up before we find out the outcome. I think the huge number of characters hurt immensely because each can only be onscreen so much with a running time under an hour and a half. If Guest had stuck to his formula and made a mockumentary following these people around the set it might have worked. By infusing an outside story he ruins the pacing and gives us dramatic scenes that undercut the comedy we should be seeing. It’s a mixed bag overall and the audience can never really settle into a groove and have a good time with it.

While the film ultimately fails, many of the performances do not. Harry Shearer is great as the washed-up neverbeen who is so good at deflecting criticism and insults that his acting with reporters supercedes his acting in movies. Parker Posey steals the show with a small but emotional role. If the film was a straight out comedy like Guest’s others I probably wouldn’t have liked this part, but since the film is so instilled with drama and a storyline, her ability to show both the working and real side of an actor is truly a joy to watch. She plays it real throughout while many of her costars have trouble picking a true path for their characters, whether realistic of cartoonish. Many others have some nice moments including Ed Begley Jr., Guest himself totally transformed, and especially Jane Lynch and Fred Willard, (who is a master at improv here as the celebrity show co-host much like he was as the announcer in Best in Show). I would like to single out Catherine O’Hara, but, by the end, her character becomes very unlikable and campy herself. While funny in her drunken stupor moment, whatever she does to her face for the second half of the film is too distracting, although she could be costar Jennifer Coolidge’s twin as a result.

Overall the film just didn’t have the laughs needed to support the premise; it didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. While most of the acting was good, the never-ending list of cameos got old and confusing as the real people we were watching became second fiddle to characters only onscreen for lees than a minute. The filmmakers over-reached too far and could never reign in the sprawling plot to be something I was invested in for the duration.

For Your Consideration 4/10

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photography:
[1] Christopher Moynihan as Brian Chubb, Harry Shearer as Victor Allan Miller, Catherine O’Hara as Marilyn Hack and Parker Posey as Callie Webb in director Christopher Guest’s For Your Consideration. Photo credit: Suzanne Tenner © 2006 Shangri-La Entertainment, LLC.

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