On November 17, Warner Independent Pictures will release For Your Consideration, the next installment in Christopher Guest’s running “mockumentary” series. Fans will remember Guest’s earlier films, Waiting for Guffman, which poked fun at Community Theater; Best in Show, which covered dog pageantry; and A Mighty Wind, probably the most esoteric of the series, following folksingers. For newcomers, the charm of Guest’s movies is that they are by and large unscripted. There’s always some kind of outline detailing a traditional three act structure, characters, plot points, and usually an epilogue, but how the story gets from beat to beat is mostly up to the talented actors. Obviously, in this style of filmmaking, there’s plenty of room for comedy and such is the draw of Guest’s movies.
Familiar faces make their return in For Your Consideration, which includes Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Eugene Levy, and of course Christopher Guest. Along with newcomer Christopher Moynihan, the cast graciously entertained questions from the Press at the Regent Beverly Wilshire this past weekend.
With For Your Consideration, Guest turns the camera on Hollywood and gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the fictional movie Home for Purim and how Oscar buzz affects the cast and crew. If the antics onscreen are to be believed, Oscar buzz has an outlandish influence in Hollywood.
“This is toned down,” Guest confesses. “There are things that have happened…in show business that are so much worse that if we showed those things no one would believe them or think they were funny.” He goes on to recount how an entertainment journalist dressed in a dog costume interviewed him for Best in Show. “If I showed that in a movie, it would just seem like a bad joke.” Fortunately, like in previous films in the series, For Your Consideration focuses less on zinging the Industry and more on the incompetent people trying to make it in the Industry.
Regarding Oscar buzz, Fred Willard states, “It’s nice if you’re nominated, if they talk about you. I think we all do things that we think are wonderful, but they go unnoticed. So I think if you ever get nominated for something, even if you don’t deserve it, it makes up for that.”
Chris Moynihan adds that the “what-about-me” factor is built into the industry. “When I was 23, I filled up my car with everything I owned and drove here because I think I’m special. I know that there are a billion people out there who are vying for 15 jobs, but I think I’m the guy who’s gonna do it.” It’s this sentiment that underscores every Oscar nominated actor’s thinking with a burning red line come awards season. “I’ve made speeches in my car and brushing my teeth. ‘I want to thank the Academy.’ All that stuff has gone through my head since I was 15! That’s why I chose to do what I’m doing.”
For Your Consideration is a departure for the series in two ways. First, it eschews the documentary feel. There are no cutaway interviews, scenes are shot from different angles with multiple takes, and it definitely feels more scripted. Jane Lynch suggests that Guest’s style of filmmaking has become so ubiquitous in the media that “this interview thing might be done.” Guest confirms, “We had done three films in one format and thought that it was time for something new. So we did.” Fortunately, there are remnants of the documentary style, but those scenes are more organic to the film as a whole. Second, while previous films maintained a lightheartedness with their loveably pathetic characters, For Your Consideration goes down a darker path that may put off some fans. “We were very much committed to showing the bad side of this,” says Guest, “There are funny things in the movie, I hope, but then we really felt that in the end we didn’t want to pull punches.”
Fans don’t need to worry. The comedy is here in spades from Fred Willard’s faux-hawk hairstyle to what the seasoned actors do to themselves to appear younger, like freakish Botox and gaudy highlights. Last, but not least, is the phenomenal acting and comedic timing. What is alarming is that the word on the street is that For Your Consideration may be the last of this series’ style of filmmaking. Jane Lynch says that she’s always heard rumor that “every one is the last one” and yet the series goes on. For all the fans, myself included, let’s hope the rumor stays just that.
For Your Consideration will be released in major markets on November 17. Look for my review at the same time.