For Your Consideration

2006, Movie, PG-13, 86 mins


Oscar fever unleashes the insecurities and vainglorious dreams of the cast and crew of an indie movie after an online posting of dubious provenance suggests the future might hold an Academy Award nomination for one or more of them. In this backstage comedy, frequent collaborators Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy dispense with the mockumentary format they used for A MIGHTY WIND (2003), BEST IN SHOW (2000) and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN (1999). But otherwise, it follows a familiar pattern, skewering the insular concerns of a group of self-absorbed characters. Sitcom director Jay Berman (Guest) is making his feature debut with the florid drama "Home for Purim," which chronicles the travails of the close-knit Pisher family in the World War II-era South. Based on a play by two college writing professors (Bob Balaban, Michael McKean), its cast is a mix of young hopefuls and veterans whom the industry has passed by. Once-promising Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), who plays the Pisher patriarch, is best known as TV-commercial character "Irv the Footlong Weiner," and Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) hasn't landed a part as good as the dying Esther Pisher since she played a blind hooker three decades earlier. Former confrontational stand-up comic Callie Webb (Parker Posey) is the wayward daughter who comes out to her conservative family with her lesbian lover in tow; and the fresh-faced Skip (Scott Williamson), Callie's real-life boyfriend, plays her brother, who did the family proud by joining the Navy. They’re still in production when cameraman Simon Whitset (Jim Piddock) tells Marilyn about an online item that suggests her performance-in-progress just might be Best Actress material. Within days, a single, substanceless remark has mushroomed into a firestorm of buzz, bringing fatuous TV reporters Cindy Martin and Chuck Porter (Jane Lynch, Fred Willard) to the set. Soon the word is out that Miller and Webb — who doesn't care about awards, it's all about the work — are also possible nominees. Whitney Taylor Brown (Jennifer Coolidge), an airhead diaper-cleaning service heiress-turned-producer, is over the moon, as is smarmy Sunfish Classics executive Martin Gibb (Ricky Gervais). However, Gibb does have a few teeny-weeny suggestions that could help the movie's chances, starting with a switch to a less ethnic holiday.… Say, Thanksgiving. The paradox of this poisoned valentine to desperate moviemakers is that it's merciless without being mean. Levy and Guest train a glaring spotlight on the self-absorption, vanity, delusions and histrionics of the movie community, but clearly love them even at their silliest. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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