Prior to the theatrical release of Christopher Guest’s latest movie, For Your Consideration, he stated that he was done with the mockumentary genre that he perfected with films like This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. After watching the DVD last night, that became abundantly clear. The problem is he seems to have given up while making the movie.
On the surface, all the ingredients are there – there is the brilliant cast (led by Catherine O’Hara and Harry Shearer, with superlative supporting work by Fred Willard, Parker Posey, and newcomer Ricky Gervais among others) and a great setup (a handful of washed-up actors believe the unbelievable Oscar buzz surrounding the hokey WWII-era Jewish melodrama, Home for Purim, they are filming).
FYC doesn’t follow the exact format of Guest’s previous mockumentaries in that it is filmed as a straight movie, but feels no less real. All the actors give their usual brilliant and totally convincing performances. And there are some laugh-at-loud moments (which I won’t give away, but many of them involve Fred Willard and his lack of a verbal filter). And just about any scene with Eugene Levy was worth at least a smile. So why can’t I place this movie among Guest’s best?
Well for one thing, while I love subtle humor, it’s a little too subtle here. I wasn’t expecting huge gags, but there were no really memorable scenes like the Stonehenge debacle in Spinal Tap or the desperate hunt for the Busy Bee in Best in Show. And I got the feeling that some of the good jokes in FYC, such as the scene where Richard Kind and Sandra Oh offer up a series of hilariously lame promotional posters for Home for Purim, have been done better before.
The phony and fickle nature of Hollywood, while seemingly lampooned effectively here, is also a bit of a tired concept. I feel like I’ve already seen at least a dozen shows and movies that have tread upon that ground already, so while FYC offered some funny insights none of them were particularly fresh.
Lastly, while I think most movies are too long and self-indulgent, this one is too short at a brisk 86 minutes. The end feels rushed and not particularly satisfying. We learn what became of O’Hara, Shearer, and Posey, but that’s it.
I’m sure this is the type of movie that could grow on me with repeated viewings, I’m just not all that anxious to watch it again. For Your Consideration is a decent effort, but left a lot on the table. I’m willing to bet this is a temporary lull for Guest & Company, and I do look forward to their next project.