FOR YOUR CONSIDERATIONPG-13
You'll never think about the words "Oscar buzz" in the same way after seeing For Your Consideration, the new show-business send-up from director Christopher Guest and his brilliant repertory company of comic improvisers. After skewering the worlds of community theatre in Waiting for Guffman, canine competitions in Best in Show, and folk music in A Mighty Wind, Guest and his mischievous band here take aim at the movie industry and its sometimes cringe-inducing relationship with the media that covers and thrives on it. Abandoning the mock-documentary format that's been Guest's forte, For Your Consideration isn't quite as on-target as his previous efforts, but his talented troupe again delivers more giddy laughs than just about any other comedy out there.
The first half of the film concerns the making of a small independent film with the box-office-poison title Home for Purim. Veteran actress Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) is starring in this '40s-era drama as dying Georgia matriarch Esther Pischer, whose family reunites for the lesser Jewish holiday of the title. Her co-stars include Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), best known to audiences from his TV commercials as "Irv the Foot-Long Wiener," and eager young actors Callie Webb (Parker Posey) and Brian Chubb (Christopher Moynihan) as Esther's children. Guest plays Brillo-haired director Jay Berman, who's prone to calling "Action!" while munching on a corned-beef sandwich, with fellow Spinal Tap alum Michael McKean and Bob Balaban as the increasingly marginalized screenwriters.
When a crew member stumbles across an obscure Internet item declaring that Marilyn is giving an award-worthy performance (with lines like "My time is short and I will not leave the Purim table!"), it's all the aptly named Ms. Hack can think about, and soon the entire company is unearthing nuggets of praise and generating a wave that reaches
fatuous "Entertainment Now" anchors Chuck Porter (a ridiculously blond-mohawked Fred Willard) and Cindy Martin (the always delightful Jane Lynch). The movie piques the interest of distributor Sunfish Classics, whose president Martin Gibb ("Office" creator Ricky Gervais in his first Guest appearance) suggests toning down its "Jewishness"--and indeed the film is retitled Home for Thanksgiving.
The high point comes as the cast makes the media rounds to promote their picture, including an unlikely spot on an MTV "TRL"-style show and a wickedly accurate Charlie Rose takeoff. Naturally enough, the story continues into awards season, but this is where For Your Consideration fails to convince. Clearly, Home for Thanksgiving is a really bad movie, and it's hard to believe it would become an Oscar contender, no matter how dubious some Academy choices have been. The film also concludes with a rather cruel postscript as the hapless award wannabes face the day-after blues.
Though For Your Consideration is more uneven than other Guest films, his ensemble remains priceless. The great O'Hara of "SCTV" and Home Alone fame is given a wonderful showcase for her protean talent, and her shocking transformation from middle-aged dowdiness to age-defying grotesque is something to behold. Guest is effortlessly droll playing yet another director of questionable talent, and regulars Eugene Levy, John Michael Higgins and Jennifer Coolidge turn in dependably daft portrayals of an agent, a publicist and a producer, respectively. Posey and Moynihan hold their own as the movie-within-the-movie's ambitious younger players, and familiar TV face Rachael Harris, in her Guest debut, is fun as the butch girlfriend Posey brings home to Mama in Home for Purim.
An honorary Oscar for the Christopher Guest Players? Let's start the buzz right here.