5/2/14

BOWFINGER - REVIEW


Here's a Frank Oz comedy with a premise so good it really should be much more remembered than it actually is.

Bowfinger sees Steve Martin play a desperate film director who attempts to make a trashy science fiction film with a big star (Eddie Murphy's Kit Ramsey) by shooting him and splicing him into the film without him ever knowing it. Unfortunately, Ramsey is a bit, shall we say, quirky and believes aliens to be real so all these weird goings on quickly get to him. Like a cross between Ed Wood, L.A. Story and The Nutty Professor, Bowfinger is a goofy love letter to filmmaking that's tons of fun from start to finish.

The Murphy/Martin duo works perfectly and neither actor has really been quite as good in a straight-up comedy as they are here since. Sure Novocaine and Shopgirl were pretty good, as were the Shrek movies, but there's a refreshingly old-fashioned approach to Bowfinger which gives it more of a cult comedy feel than the others. This is the kind of movie Martin would have starred in back in the early 90's or late 80's and Murphy is at his best here, delivering one of his funniest performances. He's actually on dual role duty as well so that's doubly impressive.

The film itself is about as wacky and cartoonish as you'd expect with Martin's director coming up with a whole bunch of nutty ideas to get this Hollywood star in his film through any means necessary. The movie in question is the horrendously titled "Chubby Rain", a schlocky sci-fi turkey which should please fans of Ed Wood's classics so the idea that this is the movie Bowfinger goes "Eureka!" over is in itself pretty funny. The film satirises Hollywood filmmaking heavily as Heather Graham's bad but driven actress basically sleeps with everyone in the crew, Kit Ramsey's brother (Murphy again) is forced to pull off some deadly stunts just because he looks like his brother and everyone goes ahead with what is clearly a vastly deluded project.

Logic plot-wise is all over the place and the film certainly takes liberties with how it goes from A to B to C, skipping over what could have covered certain mini plot-holes. Also, this is very much a one-joke movie and the one joke kinda runs out of steam near the end. It's still funny and very entertaining throughout, though. Do make sure you look out for an unexpected short appearance by Robert Downey Jr. and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by John Cho, by the way.

Overall, Bowfinger is definitely recommended: it's a brilliant idea for a comedy and Oz delivers laughs aplenty as well as a Steve Martin and an Eddie Murphy on top form. It may not always make sense but this is frankly more of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon than it is a deep, thought-provoking art film.

It's just a lot of fun.

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