For Your Consideration
First he was Nigel Tufnel in the classic rock spoof This is Spinal Tap. Then he took on small-town amateur theatrics, then dog shows, and folk music. Now he tackles the world of small-time movie making. Who? Why, none other than Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest. Yes, he really is a peer of the realm. He got his start with the National Lampoon Radio Hour and comedy records, and at “Saturday Night Live.” He makes a movie about every three years, and it’s not often enough for me, but if that’s what it takes, I’m willing to wait.
His specialty is losers and fanatics. He spoofs them mercilessly, and yet there’s always a core of affection for the behavior he’s observing. His people are absolutely uncompromising in their pursuit of their dreams, whether it’s a blue ribbon at Westminster or the staging of an awful play in a podunk town. These are the marginal people, not very bright, maybe, but dedicated. Spinal Tap never was much of a band, and the film chronicles their slide into even more obscurity; but at the end they are still working at it. In For Your Consideration we watch a bunch of third-rate actors working on a fourth-rate film (Home for Purim, which eventually becomes Home for Thanksgiving after one of the studio shitheads objects to the “Jewishness” of the project.) Through a simple misunderstanding, a rumor gets started that some of the actors are generating “Oscar buzz.” Well, just the rumor of a buzz is enough to get a genuine buzz going, with hilarious results. As for the ending … you don’t really need a spoiler warning. Remember, these people are losers.
Of course it’s over the top, but I must tell you that I witnessed some behavior very much like what’s in this movie during my time working in the biz.
Chris Guest assembles many of the same faces for all his films. It’s become a virtual stock company. All of them are very good, but standouts are Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard, who can play a clueless but genial idiot so well it’s frightening. He is particularly good here, especially when he decides to interview the losers instead of the winners. You wince at his appalling insensitivity all the time you’re laughing.