Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - December 8, 2006

Movie Review

For Your Consideration

Christopher Guest knows a good spoof when he sees one. Unfortunately he's seeing them in every conceivable nook and cranny, and his shtick is getting stale.

Ironically, Guest claims to be foregoing his flip mockumentary style in favor of a more linear narrative. You wouldn't know it based on his troop's overly familiar meanderings and character co-dependence.

Consideration touches on a topic that's rife with comic possibilities: the nauseating egos inherent in the film business. The project in question is a low-budget indie by the name of Home for Purim, an intimate drama about a Jewish family's troublesome reunion at the celebration of their dying matriarch's favorite holiday.

The Purim players are fringe celebs, a motley crew of wannabes and used-to-bes desperate for a break. One little mention on an obscure movie blog is all it takes to start tongues wagging over a rumor that faded personality Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) may be crafting an Oscar-worthy performance.

From bloggers' lips to cinema gods' ears, that tiny flame of thespian glory is fanned into a wildfire of publicity; suddenly everyone who is anyone is talking about Purim.

The buzz stimulates budding expectation, sparking interest at the top. Naturally the brass smells big box office, with a few minor changes to broaden the film's appeal. Goodbye Purim, hello Thanksgiving!

Guest trots out the likely clichés with chaotic delight: the Ebert- and Roper-like film critics fiercely defending their cine-turfs; the Entertainment Tonight-ish hosts (Guest regulars Fred Willard and Jane Lynch) perpetuating hot water-cooler gossip; and the slick-as-oil studio head (Ricky Gervais as Sunfish Classics President Martin Gibb).

Despite a crack target comic and fluent performances by Guest's crew, Consideration has a been-there-done-that quality, a tired air of familiarity and distinct lack of sparkle.

Of course there are moments: the Purim theme sung around the holiday table; O'Hara's mystifying Hollywood transformation; and Willard gaily interviewing actors who have been snubbed by the Oscars. The marvelous O'Hara rises above the pack, her hopeful anticipation so palpable it hurts.

Guest is a gifted director with a devoted group of talent willing to take one for the team. He needs to move on.

Rating: PG-13 for language and adult themes. 1 hours, 26 minutes.

--Jeanne Aufmuth


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