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Quietly amusing mockumentary style satire of Hollywood
on 20 February 2008
Christopher Guest set a high bar for mockumentaries, with the likes of Best in Show and of course, Spinal Tap. However, in his latest outing he fails to reach those heights, even if he makes a movie which is still intermittently mirthsome and has some heart to go with the satire.
The mockumentary style is toned down a little, making this a slightly more conventional film than usual. When the cast of has-beens and preening wannabes of a new B-movie `Home For Purim' find out that they are generating Oscar buzz, they start to believe the hype and act in increasingly erratic ways as their egos clash with the artificiality of Hollywood chat shows, agents, and producers.
There is definitely some genuine wit here - `Oscars - the backbone of an industry that doesn't have a backbone', but some characters work better than others, and there are few really scathing moments you'll remember long after the movie. (`French movies? Hate the subtitles... I keep thinking I am watching breaking news...').
Highlights include the truly dreadfully shallow Hollywood chat show presenters, and more especially the actors strained smiles as they listen to unforgivably crass questions coming their way. The moment when the show goes out to interview the `losers' who were not nominated is terrific, and seals the deal to turn warm smiles into chuckles for this reviewer. Best of all is the cameo from Ricky Gervais, the studio director who asks if it is possible to `tone down the Jewishness'.
A success then, worth watching, just not a rolling in the aisles laugh-fest.