Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2006. Shangri-La Entertainment, Castle Rock Entertainment. Screenplay by Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy. Cinematography by Roberto Schaefer. Produced by Karen Murphy. Music by C.J. Vanston. Production Design by Joseph T. Garrity. Costume Design by Durinda Wood. Film Editing by Robert Leighton.
The loopy reality of Oscar buzz is explored in this light-hearted poke at the film industry. Director Christopher Guest has abandoned the mockumentary style that made films like This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman and Best In Show such classics, instead making a straight comedy that follows the making of Home For Purim, a retro-classic drama about a World War II family in the American south straight out of Andy Hardy. They are wholesome and they are also Jewish with a daughter who has come home to introduce her female lover to her folks. At some point during filming, cast member Catherine O’Hara gets wind of an internet article suggesting that her performance could garner her some attention from the little golden guy, eventually gaining some serious attention from the press that has the actors suddenly abuzz with awards expectations. The film has some memorable aspects to it, but none more so than O’Hara’s genius performance that is hysterically funny but strangely sympathetic as well (on Oscar morning you’ll want to see her get rewarded too), not to mention the beautifully mean send-ups of entertainment reporters embodied by Jane Lynch and Fred Willard. The lack of the self-aware documentary process robs the film of much of the improvisation that made the previous films in the oeuvre so funny, and the uncomfortably combined elements of light parody and full-on spoof that the film vacillates between leave characters like John Michael Higgins‘s confused publicist and Jennifer Coolidge‘s daffy producer feel like they’re in the wrong movie. Still, it is the perfect send-up of Hollywood for those who found David Mamet’s State and Main too snotty or Robert Altman’s The Player too depressing.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2006