Lane Iverson: You can't throw the baby out with the bathwater because then all you have is a wet, critically injured baby.
A very average comedy for the usually very funny Christopher Guest written comedy. It attempts to be a satire on the Hollywood culture, but the characters, which in Guest's other films are usually ridiculous but likable, are this time ultimately just not very interesting to help with the humor, save for some moments.
The movie ditches Guest's usual mockumentary format for a more straight up story about the making of an independent film which develops rumors of Oscar buzz.
The film they are making is titled "Home for Purim," which could already make a good spoof on the period drama film seeing as how it is about the combination of families, the little celebrated Jewish holiday of Purim, and the daughter coming out about being a lesbian. That would be funny by itself.
The usual Guest cast is present, with Catherine O'Hara playing the lead and saddest role as a veteran actress, very happy to be know she might get more recognition. You also have Harry Shearer as the leading man in the film within this film, who plays his actor self as someone who is clearly scraping from the bottom of the barrel, but knows how to not show his desperation on the outside. Parker Posey is also here as another actress who also gets notice that she might get an Oscar nomination.
The rest of the Guest crew is here as well playing the various crew on the film, including Guest himself as the director, Michael McKean and Bob Balaban as the writers, Eugene Levy as a talent agent, and Jennifer Coolidge as the producer. English funnyman Ricky Gervais makes a welcome newcomer as well acting as the studio head.
The best moments come from Fred Willard and Jane Lynch as the hosts of an Access Hollywood type show, clearly making fun of how ridiculous this kind of news coverage can be.
What doesn't help is how the main characters in the film just aren't that appealing. Even Eugene Levy who usually can make anyone likable doesn't do much. All of Guests film are done through improvisation, but the film as a whole, especially during the first half, is just not that funny.
As it moves on, it does get better as you adjust to the characters. I myself enjoy Parker Posey in Guest's films, so she does a good enough job here, along with the mentioned characters from Willard and Lynch. However, as a whole, the film is mainly just to dry and doesn't push itself far enough.
The subject matter itself has been handled in better movies like State and Main, The Last Shot, Bowfinger, and The Player, dealing with the hassles in getting a film made and how funny it can be. This includes a tired running joke about the internet which seems way out of date.
There are some very funny moments in this movie, but not nearly enough as Guest's past movies.
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