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For Your Consideration

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: B
Video/Audio/Extras: A-/B+/B-

Directed by: Christopher Guest
Written by: Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy
Produced by: Karen Murphy
Starring: Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Christopher Moynihan, Christopher Guest
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Rent it

Christopher Guest is considered the king of Improvisational comedy and while I have only seen two of his films, I certainly have enjoyed both of them and hope to see more of his work. A Mighty Wind was a mockumentary (the type of film he is typically known), a style he dropped when he made For Your Consideration. When that film was released last autumn, it received lukewarm reviews, but I quite enjoyed upon my first viewing on DVD. I didn't like it as much as A Mighty Wind, but For Your Consideration still proved to be a very nice film to watch on a snowy Tuesday afternoon in late February. It proves to be a very funny satire on the Academy Awards buzz that occurs near the end of the year as it details a group of actors who expectations go through the roof when they hear of their possible chances.

As the film begins, we are introduced a funny set of characters working on the set of the independent film Home for Purim, a period piece about a Jewish family living in the South. Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) is a veteran actress who wants to return to the limelight again after playing the breakthrough role of a blind prostitute many year earlier. Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), a Broadway and advertisement actor is having to deal with his incompetent agent, played by the always great Eugene Levy (who really needs to stop doing those direct-to-DVD American Pie sequels) who constantly gets him bad film roles until Home for Purim comes along. Young starlets Brian and Callie (Christopher Moynihan and Parker Posey) are also in the cast and deeply in love. When a blogger on the Internet writes that he believes that Hack has a solid shot at an Oscar nomination, the studio's publicist (John Michael Higgins) decides to take the buzz to his advantage and hype the other actors as well. This soon leads to more awards buzz, studio interference, surprisingly positive critical reviews and off-screen rivalries. Hooray for Hollywood, indeed.

For Your Consideration is a very funny inside look at the film industry showing the production and marketing process of that world. Catherine O'Hara leads the cast with an absolutely hilarious performance as Hack as she moves from being a sweet actress to a downright monster. The transformation is a feast for the eyes and I believe she should have received an Oscar nomination for that role. The rest of the cast also fare rather well with Eugene Levy, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins and Parker Posey all being top-notch. One of the highlights, along with O'Hara is Ricky Gervais from The Office. Playing the head of the studio financing Home for Purim, he potrays the big executive perfectly with his plea to the writers to "tone down the Jewish-ness, so everybody can enjoy it." He's a delight. There are a couple of criticisms, though. First of all, the Home for Purim scenes get a bit tiring after a while, but they still manage to provide a couple of chuckles. Harry Shearer also disappoints as Victor, but you can't fault him completely since he does share a lot of scenes with O'Hara and Levy. Working with two SCTV alumni can do that to you. Finally, the jokes leveled at the industry aren't biting enough. Excluding maybe the scenes with Gervais, Guest doesn't really go for the jungular which is rather disappointed. Nonetheless, For Your Consideration provides plenty of laughs and the cast do a great job coupled together with an interesting story.

Warner Brothers also doesn't go for the jungular as extras are minimal on this disc, but what we get is still very good. First off, there is an audio commentary track with director/co-writer/actor Christopher Guest and co-writer/actor Eugene Levy. They both provide an interesting discussion on working on the film, talking about the writing process, the actor's performances and other little tidbits. It's a worthy track that Guest fans will adore. There is also a large set of deleted scenes, most of which are entertaining. My favourite is a discussion between the entertainment reporters played by Fred Willard and Jane Lynch in which Willard complains about the height of his co-host's chair. The final scene is completely worth skipping as it just features endless conversation between an actress and her hand puppet. Just plain boring. Finally, there is a humourous Home for Purim poster gallery as well as the theatrical trailer of For Your Consideration. I would have really enjoyed a fake trailer for Home for Purim, but it's still a nice batch of extras. This is a good disc for a good film that made me laugh and the special features are pretty good as well. A rental will do just fine.

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