L.A. Story

Christopher Guest's Hollywood is well worth a visit.

For Your Consideration
For Your Consideration pulls off the neat trick of skewering the movie industry while remaking it in its own image. The latest ensemble comedy by Christopher Guest and company may take place in Los Angeles, but its imaginative provenance lies somewhere between the La La Lands of Entourage and Mulholland Drive. Embellished with anachronisms, affectations, improvisational asides, and verbal non sequiturs, it's as weird and whimsical an invention as Guest's Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, or A Mighty Wind.

The scenario is more or less anchored in what passes for reality in Hollywood. Anxiety mounts for cast and crew on the indie production Home for Purim when a blogger forecasts Oscar consideration for leading lady Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara). As the hype metastasizes to include her co-star, hotdog spokesman Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), and supporting beauty Callie Webb (Parker Posey), a story for the media is born.

All of which would be perfectly reasonable if Home for Purim weren't utterly ridiculous. Written by Lane Iverson (Michael McKean) and Philip Koontz (Bob Balaban), and directed by neophyte nebbish Jay Berman (Christopher Guest), it revives some forgotten mode of hysterical melodrama without a trace of irony or competence. Home for the holidays, a preposterous clan of Georgia Jews rally around their dying matriarch, jabbering in drawling Yiddish. Like a parody of a parody of a 1940s tearjerker, it's the sort of film where a lady about to swoon first puts a wrist to her forehead and rolls her eyes to heaven -- Acting! Genius! -- but with indie cred provided by the lesbian subplot.

Elsewhere on the set, producer Whitney Taylor Brown (Jennifer Coolidge), heiress of the Brown diaper fortune, struggles with polysyllabic words; bumbling agent Morley Orfkin (Eugene Levy) gobbles down bagels; and unit publicist Corey Taft (John Michael Higgins) calls for the marketing campaign to be "timely, quantifiable, and orotund." All of Guest's films have their designated scene-stealer, and this time it's Higgins, whose daffy flack adds much to the film's off-kilter hilarity as well as to its mannered fustiness. His ignorance of the "Interweb" is typical of the way the Hollywood of Consideration often seems as outdated as the Georgia of Purim.

Guest's movies revel in marginal cultures and obsolete sensibilities, whether it's the podunk thespians of Waiting for Guffman, the dog nerds of Best in Show, or the folksingers of A Mighty Wind. By infusing his antiquated sympathies into au courant Hollywood, he risks a disconnect in the material; imagine The Player and A Prairie Home Companion done as one film. But it's exactly that tension, a bristle of styles, that lends Consideration a more memorable texture than something like The Big Picture, Guest's 1989 directorial debut about the odyssey of a naive filmmaker through 1980s Hollywood.

The movie doesn't lack for topical zingers. The Charlie Rose Show receives its definitive mocking, and as Chuck Porter, meathead co-host of TV tabloid Hollywood Now, Fred Willard is done up with faux-hawk, diamond earring, hot-pink tie, and the pathetic exuberance of a professional ass-kisser.

Consideration is a movie about insiders from an outsider perspective. A less selfish movie about egotism is hard to imagine. Credit the cast as much as the concept. They work in perfect accord and confidence; their timing is beyond impeccable, and everything is in its place. They keep the material from descending into grotesquerie because they know its secret: Hoopla in Hollywood isn't the real subject here, merely the pretext for another oddball ode to lovable losers.

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