Movie review by Greg Carlson
Christopher Guest fans may feel the need to revisit their “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show” DVDs after viewing “For Your Consideration,” a largely disappointing outing from the talented director. Working from the premise that the possibility of peer recognition in the form of an otherwise meaningless award can cast a powerful spell on anyone in show business, the movie musters few laughs in the course of its predictable and familiar trajectory. Without the more leisurely takes that delivered the goods in the director’s previous mockumentaries, “For Your Consideration” never quite nails the all too easy target provided by Hollywood vanity.
Essentially eschewing the mockumentary style of “Guffman” for a more straightforward narrative, Guest nevertheless employs a number of expected machinations. The large cast, peopled by the familiar workhorses of Guest’s roster, includes Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, and Parker Posey in plum roles while other vets, like Jane Lynch, Eugene Levy, and Michael McKean take smaller parts. The gang’s all here, but with few exceptions, the magic is in very short supply. Only Fred Willard, in a ghastly Ryan Seacrest inspired faux-hawk hairdo, and Jennifer Coolidge, as a clueless producer, manage to find something special in their characters, albeit fleetingly.
Fans of this troupe, including myself, feel a tremendous amount of goodwill for all the laughs previously provided, which makes the realization that “For Your Consideration” has nothing to offer in terms of characterization sting something fierce. The losers of this piece bear little resemblance to the losers of Guest’s other, better films. They utterly lack the underlying layers of warmth and humanity that defined the personalities in the earlier movies. Instead, the talented cast is relegated to playing tired stereotypes and caricatures that would seem passé on even the most poorly crafted SNL sketch.
There is no doubt that “For Your Consideration” would have made a much better film had Guest and co-writer Levy constructed something gutsier than the movie-within-the-movie “Home for Purim,” a bland, melodramatic period family drama with O’Hara as a terminally ill matriarch and Posey as her prodigal, lesbian daughter. The humor generated by “Home for Purim” is toothless and creaky, light-years from the brilliance of “Guffman’s” “Red, White and Blaine” or the short movie confections included in the director’s feature debut, the much sharper Hollywood satire “The Big Picture.”
Given its wretched, overwrought phoniness, it is impossible to believe that “Home for Purim” would receive any kind of Oscar buzz, which seriously dilutes the punch that might have otherwise been delivered in the final act. O’Hara’s grotesque transformation into a collagen and Botox-injected horror earns a single laugh for how closely it resembles the poor choices of any number of desperate celebrities, but had Guest and Levy written their primary character as something other than an off-the-radar nobody, audiences might have been willing to suspend disbelief. Where “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind” are narrowly focused and bracingly deep, “For Your Consideration” is broad and shallow, kind of like a puddle.
This review was originally published in the High Plains Reader the week of 12/4/06.