Film

For Your Consideration (2006)

Jesse Hassenger

Despite its comparatively strong plot and sharp satire, For Your Consideration seems less substantial than Guest's other films.


For Your Consideration

Director: Christopher Guest
Cast: Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Independent
First date: 2006
US Release Date: 2006-11-17 (Limited release)
Website
Trailer

Christopher Guest's mocumentaries are famous for examining peculiar subcultures. But even as I enjoyed Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), and A Mighty Wind (2003), I was nagged by doubt, not at the quality of the humor, but the strength of the supposed satire. None of his films since 1984's This is Spinal Tap (cowritten by and costarring Guest, but not directed by him) achieves that film's precise targeting. Was the folk music world, for example, really asking for it in 2003, 30 or 40 years after its peak in popularity?

The new Guest project, For Your Consideration takes on Hollywood, specifically the idea of "Oscar buzz." The film's title comes from Oscar ads placed by studios to trumpet the availability of actors or films for nominations. No one involved with making film-within-the-film Home for Purim, a misbegotten indie about a Southern-Jewish homecoming, seems to harbor Oscar hopes. At least not until an internet posting touts never-was actress Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) as a possible nominee. Following this advocacy, which is anonymous and, from what we see of Purim, hilariously unfounded, entertainment media come calling. Soon, frequent commercial actor Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer) and upstart Callie Webb (Parker Posey) are eyed for potential nominations, too.

The idea of small-timers with delusions of grandeur is not new for Guest and company, but For Your Consideration creates a world for its characters that is less insular than in his earlier films. They are not strung along only by their own sad whims, but also by outside forces like the internet, infotainment programs, and studio heads. A particularly broad and deserving target is provided by the movie's Entertainment Tonight knockoff, hosted by Chuck Porter (Fred Willard) and Cindy Martin (Jane Lynch). Willard reprises his enthusiastic fool routine from the previous films, but it's especially suited to entertainment news, where enthusiastic foolishness is part of the job description. Lynch's vapid posing -- she plays the co-anchor as a stance in search of a personality -- is even funnier.

Not everyone shines, though. Guest's ensemble is filled to bursting. All of the regulars return, relegating additional players (like Ricky Gervais and John Krasinski) to a handful of scenes. With that sprawling cast and a trim running time, the film leaves veterans like Michael McKean and cowriter Eugene Levy with short shrift. Worse, some of their jokes are downright standard. Levy's small-time agent who neglects his has-been client is merely a stereotype, stating his devotion to a client right before ignoring him to take another call. Surely the gifted Levy could have improvised something fresher.

It's possible that such shortcomings represent a cast-wide adjustment to a new format. Though it maintains the creative process of previous Guest films, For Your Consideration drops the documentary conceit, proceeding instead as a straight narrative. This decision doesn't pay off as richly as we might hope.

Despite its comparatively strong plot and sharp satire, For Your Consideration seems less substantial than Guest's other directorial efforts. Like them, For Your Consideration has memorable moments: Hack's change from neurotic, aging actress into a type who is far sadder and creepier (and more botoxed, natch) borders on terrifying. But such insights into the effects of hype and the town's incessant "business" don't build to anything. If some of Guest's previous targets felt too tiny to bother hitting, this film does offer a worthy one. But this time, it's the picture that got small.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.