For Your Consideration
I couldn’t have asked for a better environment in which to see the new Christopher Guest film, For Your Consideration, than Sunday night’s Press and Industry screening at the Varsity. You could feel the collective shudder that accompanied each wave of laughter. From the publicists to the buyers and the producers to the press, Guest skewered every last one of us. The laughs were a mile-a-minute, as Guest regulars John Michael Higgins , Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Eugene Levy (who co-wrote the script), Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr. and Fred Willard (sporting the funniest faux-hawk I’ve ever seen) again delivered the comic goods.
For Your Consideration focuses on the set of a hopeless independent feature film entitled Home for Purim (Purim being the Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of Persian Jews from the tyrannical King Hamman—it’s all in the Book of Esther; look it up). Imagine The Family Stone meets Bound, with some Faulkner and Chaim Potok thrown in for spice. Top that off with infomercial-quality acting and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what we’re dealing with.
Purim stars nobodies Marilyn Hack (O’Hara), Victor Allen Miller (Shearer) and Kelly Webb (Parker Posey), all of whom are praying the film will deliver them from F-List obscurity. When a nerdy Assistant Director tells Hack that her name has been mentioned on an Internet tattle site that deals in Oscar buzz, she flips her lid. Before long, it seems that everyone in the Purim cast is rumoured to be a nominated. Suddenly Miller is no longer content to do his Earle the Footlong Weiner ads and Hack has transformed herself into a collagen and silicon monstrosity—a WASPish Donatella Versace.
By making Purim such an absurdly unrealistic project, Guest avoids hitting the independent film industry too close to the bone. But accordingly, the results don’t quite pack the satirical punch of This is Spinal Tap (which Guest co-wrote and starred in) or his best-loved film, Waiting for Guffman. That said, For Your Consideration is still on target when it comes to the film industry’s shallow trophy fetishization. Given how many films we’ve seen satirically mining this same subject, the movie looks and feels remarkably vital. And watching these improv veterans work is as awe-inspiring as it is delightful.