For Your Consideration (United States, 2006)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

When you think of Christopher Guest, the first thing likely to spring to mind is fake documentaries. He has made his reputation in the arena. From This Is Spinal Tap (which he co-wrote but did not direct) to A Mighty Wind, Guest has turned his camera on a variety of subjects. The term "mockumentary" was coined to descibe Guest's work and that of those who have copied him over the years. Although Guest is the unquestioned King of the Mockumentaries, with For Your Consideration, he steps back from his trademark approach. For Your Consideration is a satire, but it's not set up as a faux documentary. Instead, this send up of the movie industry is constructed as a series of largely improvised you-are-there scenes interspersed with fake TV clips. The result is often amusing but rarely uproarious, making this the softest of Guest's recent oeuvre.

The first two-thirds of the movie take place on the set of the indie production Home for Purim, which is established from the beginning to be an overwrought melodrama. We meet all the principals (most played by members of Guest's regular troupe: Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge) - the actors, the director, the publicists, and various "entertainment reporters." Rumors of Oscar nominations begin to circulate on the Internet, and these are exploited by the tabloid TV shows that feed on movie news. The film's final third is devoted to the Oscar season, with a short "where they are now" epilogue.

In its barbs directed at movie making and the Hollywood culture, For Your Consideration is noticeably refrained. Guest is often referred to as being "affectionate" to his characters, and this is evident here. He pulls a lot of punches, which places For Your Consideration at a disadvantage when being compared to more acerbic looks at the material such as Robert Altman's The Player and Guest's own The Big Picture. One aspect of the publicity process that gets its just desserts is the superficiality of TV shows like Entertainment Tonight. Fred Willard is perfect as the vacuous host with the bad hairdo.

For Your Consideration has plenty of great one-liners and contains strong individual scenes (a tribute to the comedic aptitude of those involved). Catherine O'Hara is wonderful as an aging actress worried about appearing too old or haggard, even though her character is dying. Eugene Levy is hilarious as a clueless publicist. And Ricky Gervais has a small but memorable turn as a studio head who "suggests" the title be changed to Home for Thanksgiving to "tone down the Jewishness."

For Your Consideration will not go down as one of Guest's crown jewels, but it's nevertheless engaging. It's about on par with A Mighty Wind, or perhaps a little below. Fans of Guest's movies know what to expect, and they get it: an easily digestible lampoon that offers enough clever moments and genuine laughs to justify the price of admission (or at least a rental). One has to wonder, however, whether the well is running dry and whether Guest might be better served by changing his approach for his next effort.

For Your Consideration (United States, 2006)

Run Time: 1:26
U.S. Release Date: 2006-11-17
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1