Sitting inches from a cinema screen seems to be the thing to do at the moment. Last week it was noses-to-the-screen at Hot Fuzz (review to follow in the next couple of weeks when I can watch it from a less upfront position) and this week we were nestled in the Cornerhouse’s living room to watch For Your Consideration, the new comedy from Christopher Guest and co. “Who?” you might ask – to which I’d cuff you round the ear and say “the guys that brought comedy genius into the world through such mock-docs as ‘This is Spinal Tap’ and ‘Best in Show’ you fool.” Then I might apologise if I cuffed you too hard, but really you’d have deserved it.
The likes of Spinal Tap were such winners because the hugely talented ensemble cast threw themselves into the world they were reflecting and created hilarious moments with natural, free-flowing dialogue. The same technique is employed in this new offering, although it mustn’t have taken much preparation to immerse themselves into these roles. The gang play a bunch of actors, film producers and writers.
The story centres on a handful of actors who discover, via internet hype, that their current film may result in an Oscar nomination for their performances. How this potential award changes their attitudes (and in some cases, their actual faces) is the main comic thrust, though there are plenty of opportunities for giggles, be it through Eugene Levy’s useless agent, Jennifer Coolidge’s thicko producer or Guest himself, as the slightly crap director.
The trouble is that despite causing me to chortle, the film also created a frown on completion. The team are experts at this kind of format, but it felt like they were very much aware of this, which perhaps caused them to go on cruise control. Fred Willard turns in a hilarious performance as a dumb and slightly offensive TV presenter. Just looking at some of his outfits, or the trendy ‘ducks arse’ hair style he sports (the guy’s 68) is enough to bring a smile. Trouble is, in Best in Show he plays a dumb and slightly offensive TV commentator. Still just as funny. But watching Consideration you can’t help but feel that they could’ve tried something a little different. Jennifer Coolidge almost always plays a dumb blonde. True, she does it fabulously, but again maybe it’s time she stretched herself. And our very own Ricky Gervais pops up and plays… oh yeah, it’s his ‘Gervais/Brent’ act. Again.
So though Consideration is no doubt funny, with clever little digs at celebrity culture and the problems with hype, it doesn’t boast enough set pieces to match those of the Tap or Best in Show, or even a story as engaging as A Mighty Wind. Instead it’s similar jokes in a different, but not different enough, environment. A great shame, and a conundrum for my ratings. On its own merits this is a funny, clever little film with a brilliant cast, pooing all over the other “comedies” out now (Epic Movie? Come on – stop ripping off everyone else’s jokes just to make the plebs laugh. They’ll laugh at their own reflection, you don’t need to spoil our cinemas on their behalf). But put it in terms of what it could have accomplished and you can’t help but be a little disappointed. I think this deserves more than just a CF0, but I can’t make it any higher than CF1 I’m afraid. If you’re new to Guest then this is worth a gander, but the rest you may find things a little too familiar.