Another trip to the dentist this week meant another chance for lunch with Kristin at Racha, my favorite Thai restaurant in Seattle. The walk back to her office takes us past Uptown Espresso, where they make my favorite coffee drink -- the Cafe Mezzo. It's a combination Americano and Latte. Basically, very strong coffee with some frothed milk on top and not as acidic as a straight Americano. The place is a dive, but the drinks are fantastic. You see, I like going to the dentist for this very reason; it gives me an excuse to walk around in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood and visit shops like Easy Street Records or the bar at T.S. McHughes. Sure, it's a 40 minute drive from home and I probably drive past 100 dentists to get there, but it has its benefits. The main befit, aside from lunch with Kristin, is that it also gives me a reason to check out what's playing at the Uptown Theatre. The Uptown is a great moviehouse that always manages to have a few good independent and foreign films playing.
So, on Monday, while walking back to Kristin's office -- Cafe Mezzo in hand -- I stopped and got a ticket to see "For Your Consideration", the latest in the line of terrific mockumentaries by Christopher Guest starring Eugene Levy, Harry Shearer, Catherine O'Hara and Jennifer Coolidge. I loved "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind" and figured this particular movie would have to be just as good. After all, same creator, same cast, winning track record...
"For Your Consideration" is about Hollywood and the craziness that goes on whenever someone mentions... psstt... a potential Academy Award nomination. The film follows the stars on the set of horrid-looking film called 'Home for Purin' as they try to revive their declining acting careers in a movie about a Jewish holiday nobody outside the faith has likely ever heard of. Knowing he has to stroke their delicate actor-egos a little, the director casually mentions that he saw a post on the Internet saying that someone sneaked onto the set and was posting online that the female star (Catherine O'Hara) should be considered for a nomination. It's unclear, but I have the feeling he said it just to make her feel good. And thus begins the self-created Hollywood hype cycle. Before you know it, these actors (one of whom was recently starring as a hot-dog on a commercial) are being paraded around town as part of the latest A-List, doing morning shows, interviews, etc., etc., and everyone is telling them how marvelous they are and how sure they are to win an Oscar. Except none of these folks have actually seen 'Home for Purin' yet.
The movie definitely has its funny moments -- and when it's funny, it's hysterical -- but there just wasn't nearly enough of it this time. There were parts of the movie that felt completely left out or skipped over and when it ends, it ends so suddenly you're left shocked that the credits are rolling. The movie is entertaining in that it pokes fun of Hollywood and how obsessed these actors are with the awards ceremony (despite portending to be above all that) but in the end, the movie doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. "A Mighty Wind" and "Best in Show" took us somewhere we haven't been, it spotlighted a small subculture (folk musicians and dog show people, respectively) that are foreign to most of us and the movies were awesomely funny. But "For Your Consideration" is about something we are all at the very least familiar with and are already kind of overwhelmed with. We've been seeing awards shows on tv for decades and even admitting to watching them has become a cause of ridicule in some circles.
If the movie has one saving grace, it's that Fred Willard's role as a 'Hollywood Now' host is sadistically cruel and rude to his guests (i.e. the movie stars). Willard plays Chuck Porter and steals every scene he's in. You'll either hate his character or applaud and laugh at every insensitive action and remark he makes. And if you find yourself cheering for his ruthlessness, then you're going to love the final 15 minutes of the film. But other than that, I have to say the film is a big disappointment after Guest's other recent films.