Christopher Guest has vowed not to make any more mockumentaries. Well, that's technically true: "For Your Consideration" has no talking-to-the-camera moments.
But while Guest has abandoned the mockumentary format -- as shown in movies like "Waiting for Guffman" and "A Mighty Wind" -- he hasn't lost his knack for hysterical comedy and intensely quirky characters. It's less intimate than his prior movies, but still skewers the entire entertainment industry, piece by piece.
As the movie opens, several actors are shooting "Home For Purim," a Southern Jewish tearjerker entered on a dying matriarch and her fragmented family. Then a stagehand tells Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) that there are Web rumors about her receiving an Oscar. Suddenly buzz is building, and everyone is excited about the possibility of their tiny movie getting notice (and though that, their careers).
The Oscar buzz builds higher as the cast does publicity for "Home For Purim," and two more rumored nominations pop up. Two actors break up over potential Oscar stress, another goes on MTV-style shows, and the movie gets its theme changed to make it more "inclusive." The entire cast is on tenterhooks... but on nomination night, who is going to be the star?
Metafictional movies, and movies about makig movies, usually stink to high heaven. But Guest is the exception that proves the rule, as he mercilessly mocks E!-style journalism, critics, MTV, narcissistic producers, and even the Academy itself ("Give us all the awards -- we're FRENCH!").
Admittedly, this is not Guest at his best -- since the characters don't talk to the camera, they feel more distant. However, Guest has a knack for pathos mingled with biting satire. And best of all, these talented actors toss off improvised dialogue as if they were born to ("We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Because you'll just get a wet and critically injured baby!").
Most of the humor is because of the weird characters -- Eugene, Levy as a slimy agent, Jennifer Coolidge as a blonde bimbo producer, and Fred Willard as an obnoxious E!-style reporter with a silly faux-hawk (Ryan Seacrest, this is you in twenty years!). And keep an eye out for Ricky "The Office" Gervais as an exec determined to water down the movie.
And O'Hara is sublime here. Her portrayal of a resigned, aging actress who gets high on hope is both hilarious and tragic, and she's the one character that you cannot laugh at by the end. That face-lift freaks me out, though.
"For Your Consideration" will never win an Oscar -- the Academy doesn't have a sense of humor about itself. But while not Guest at the best, this is still hilariously funny.