Shortly after seeing the perfectly awful Norbit, I was browsing through Eddie Murphy’s credits for the titles of some of the almost equally awful movies he’s made recently, and I came across this. How I missed it when it was new I don’t know. I mean, Eddie Murphy back when he was often funny, Steve Martin back when he was still doing good work, and Frank Oz? Sounds like a sure thing. Oz directed some our favorite movies, including Little Shop of Horrors, HouseSitter, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and last year’s hilarious Death at a Funeral, in addition to being the voice of Yoda and Miss Piggy.
And though this movie isn’t quite in that league, it’s a winner. Martin plays Bowfinger, a fifth-rate director down on his luck, like so many Hollywood wannabes. (A poster in the background shows a car and the title The Yugo Story, which may be his only screen credit.) He gets a script for something called Chubby Rain, which he thinks is pure genius, and sounds to me as if it would make Plan 9 From Outer Space look like 2001: A Space Odyssey. But he’s determined, and not without guile. He comes up with the idea of having Eddie Murphy, the biggest action star in Hollywood, star in his movie … only he won’t know he’s in it. He hides cameras, has his actors sneak up on Murphy and play their scenes. It doesn’t hurt that Murphy is crazy as a shithouse rat and already thinks he’s being chased by aliens. These odd happenings fit right into his paranoia. He’s also a member of a weird cult that will surely remind you of Scientology, or maybe Werner Erhard’s EST Training. (Remember him? Me, neither.) Some very funny stuff here, including how Bowfinger gets his crew. He backs a van up to the Mexican border and simply rounds up the first four wetbacks to come his way. Soon they are expert in the movie biz, getting phone calls from their agents. Then there is the wide-eyed, cute little girl from Ohio who gets off the bus and before long has fucked anyone who has any chance of making her a star. I mean, she’s so determined she even goes to bed with the writer, something that has never happened in Hollywood unless the writer is also the producer and director.