For Your Consideration (2006) Review

  • Year: 2006
  • Directed by: Christopher Guest
  • Starring: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Harry Shearer, Catherine O’Hara, Christopher Moynihan, Parker Posey
  • Written by: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
  • Publication: Valley Scene

Fans of Christopher Guest’s previous films, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind enjoyed his style of filmmaking because each film felt entirely improvised, yet impressively cohesive enough to make hilarious comedies about ordinary people striving for the extraordinary and—for them anyway—unattainable. By and large, those elements are still there in For Your Consideration, but it’s obvious that Guest is taking his filmmaking more seriously and has departed from the tried and true formula.

For Your Consideration examines the production of the fictional independent film Home for Purim, which is a Jewish family drama set in the 1940’s South. Once an Internet rumor regarding Oscar nominations is leaked onto the set, everything slowly spirals out of control for the entire cast.

Catherine O’Hara and Harry Shearer play actors who have moved far beyond their prime and once Oscar buzz hits them, they pathetically alter their appearance to look younger in the off-putting way that old people use teenage slang. Parker Posey and Christopher Moynihan play an on-set couple, but when Oscar buzz buzzes around one and not the other, it affects them divisively. How the situations play out is hilarious and the comic acting is first rate, but self-destruction of the characters definitely underscores the comedy.

Feeding fuel to the fire are entertainment industry shows like movie-review series Love It/Hate It, an Ebert & Roeper style show, and Hollywood Now, think Access Hollywood, with Fred Willard, sporting a faux-hawk, co-hosting with straight (wo)man Jane Lynch.

Consideration differs from previous Guest films in that it is no longer a documentary—or mockumentary, as his films have been called. Expect to see close-ups and footage shot over shoulders. None of this is to say it’s bad in any way, just different; but that difference lends a more scripted feel to the entire movie. It doesn’t help that so much time is devoted to watching Home for Purim, the movie within the movie, which is entirely scripted. Granted, the scripted scenes are still funny, but fans may feel cheated, which is a strange sentiment since the musical in Guffman was scripted. I think having the cutaway interviews balanced out the scripted scenes in Guffman and to have them removed in Consideration highlights the scripted scenes that much more. For my money, I’d have been happy not having seen one second of Home for Purim and having spent more time watching the excellent cast improvise.

Finally, the ending will most likely have fans and newcomers talking. Consideration almost turns into a different movie once we see whose nominations don’t come through and how their lives take turns for the worse. Usually, the epilogue in Guest’s films allows us one last good-natured laugh at the incompetent people who should never have tried in the first place. Not so with this film. You can’t help but feel bad for these characters. They were not incompetent people. They were simply serviceable actors working with odd material. To watch Fate stand them up just to knock them down seems mean-spirited.

Now I know how Scorsese feels every year.