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March 19, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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For Your Consideration

“In every actor there lives a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. You just don’t know which one is going to come out.”

This is one of the first lines of the film and it is certainly apt.

Despite Guest’s previous successes with this type of comedy, and although the bits and pieces of the film seemed to have real potential, they don’t gel together.

Guest goes straight into a satire of Hollywood and the superficial hype of award season, showing how honest, hard working people get caught in the madness of commercialism. Actress Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara) casually hears about an internet rumour that she may be up for an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the dying Jewish mother in the independent period drama Home for Purim. She goes from a happy, semi-has-been actress to a shiny slut with a plastic smile out to get what she wants. As word spreads on set and two more leading cast members get mentioned, the film-makers start believing their own hype, and in so doing get further and further away from anything that might actually be Oscar worthy.

O’Hara’s performance is commendable and the rest of the cast certainly has the comedy talent, like the hilarious TV hosts, played by Fred Willard and Jane Lynch, who start predicting award winners in turbans and desert robes. However, the material lets them down time and time again. Jokes are predictable and unoriginal; the agent starts a big speech to his client about how he is so important to him and then takes a phone call. The characterisation is almost non-existent; there is little sense of pace and not much happens in the film other than the main narrative.

The target of Guest’s satire is an easy one. He certainly gets his message across, but there isn’t anything special about his take on it. That is something that not even good acting and plot potential can make up for.

CHRISTOPHER GUEST

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