For Your Consideration (2006) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual references and language
Running time: 86 min.
Cast: Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Ed Begley Jr., Fred Willard, Ricky Gervais, Jane Lynch, Larry Miller, Christopher Guest, Michael Hitchcock, Don Lake, Craig Bierko
Cameo: John Krasinski, Sandra Oh, Richard Kind, Bob Balaban, Mary McCormack, Joe Satriani, Rick Gonzalez, Claire Forlani, Hart Bochner, Kevin Sussman
Director: Christopher Guest
Screenplay: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Although some critics have labeled For Your Consideration another Christopher Guest mockumentary, I think that's more out of lazy habit than a true description of this comedy. It is a straight comedy. not set up to seem like a documentary, despite the occasional news footage where the participants are interviewed. At the very least, this does distinguish the film from Guest's other works (with the exception of The Big Picture), even if the style of comedy is very similar, with many ad-libbed performances by a cast that have mostly appeared in his previous films.
This time out, Guest's target is more familiar, and therefore less fresh. We've seen plenty of spoofs on the idiocy of Hollywood and its patronizing attitude toward celebrities, building them up in order to inevitably tear them down before our eyes, very much in an effort to increase ratings. For Your Consideration delves into the way that an "Oscar buzz" surrounding a small independent film called Home for Purim changes the lives of the actors, actresses, producers, agents and director and their approach to what should have been a quaint and secular heartwarming story about family. Soon, egos run amok, as its lead performers appear on all sorts of celebrity-hawking TV shows, making asses of themselves in order to get their names and faces out there to keep in the public spotlight that has eluded them most of their careers.
Like most of Guest's works, there is a pre-built audience that will readily appreciate For Your Consideration. If you've thoroughly enjoyed Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, which all deal with the pomp and circumstance of the entertainment industry, your interest in this film should be a slam dunk. If you've seen the aforementioned films and wondered why anyone would find them funny in the slightest, then you're going to continue to be left scratching your head as to why someone would proclaim For Your Consideration one of the funniest films of the year. I've generally liked his other films, but I should mention that I've never been one to think them hilarious, as others may have described. I would classify them more as whimsical charmers that allow us to laugh at the characters and their silliness, while also rooting for them to do well. We like them for their flaws, and the way the film is delivered, which is much more character-driven than most comedies are these days, their screw-ups amuse because they ring so true.
I would be neglectful in mentioning that a great deal of credit as to why Guest's films work comes from his consummate knowledge of his actors and their ranges, with each comedian perfectly suited to their respective roles. Catherine O'Hara (Monster House, Over the Hedge) and Harry Shearer (Dick, The Truman Show), who aren't generally the main stars of films, get their chances to shine, perhaps some of their finest performances to date. Posey (Superman Returns), Levy (American Pie Band Camp), Willard (Date Movie), and Coolidge (Click) deliver exactly what you've come to expect, which is to say, laughs from their eccentricities. Guest has fun sending up the "Entertainment Tonight", Charlie Rose and MTV style interview shows, portraying them as the phony, pumped-up nothingness that somehow gets a wide audience day in and day out.
For Your Consideration isn't as endearing as Guest's other films, primarily because the scope is more broad, and therefore, less intimate. Although it does feature characters who think they are suddenly bigger than they were ever meant to be, which is one of his staple comedic motifs, it's hard to laugh at them when the entire industry of movie publicity and promotion is laughable in and of itself. Nevertheless, while it may not strike at the hearts of viewers who think Best in Show one of the more vibrant and unique comedies of its era, it does maintain the interest, while the level of humor, even if never quite as hilarious as you think it might become, remains consistently entertaining throughout.
©2007 Vince Leo