Reuniting virtually all of the personnel from Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration is a middling Hollywood comedy that trods familiar ground and never quite gets its comedic feet under it. Once again, as in A Mighty Wind, co-writer and director Christopher Guest’s affection for his characters undermines the potential for humor. The subject of Oscar hype in Hollywood might be ripe for scathing satire, but all this movie can manage is a softball thrown underhand.
The biggest problem with A Mighty Wind is that it gets so involved with telling its story that it occasionally forgets to be comedy. Make no mistake, it’s not a bad story, but it’s not a story of talentless but enthusiastic losers like Waiting For Guffman or of hilariously obsessive dog lovers like Best In Show. The faux-folk musicians in A Mighty Wind are actually quite good at what they do and they’re not clueless buffoons like Spinal Tap. The dramatic elements, especially the story of Mitch (Catherine O’Hara) and Mickey (Eugene Levy) take control and the outright comedic elements, especially those of Fred Willard, tend to hang in the air like a loud fart at a funeral.
After doing for heavy metal what Blazing Saddles did for westerns, This Is Spinal Tap also managed to spark a minor cottage industry known as the Christopher Guestmockumentary. Now, Tap was hardly the first fake rock documentary, since The Rutles had been around for several years. Eric Idle’s spoof of Beatlemania, however, never got near the National Film Registry as did Rob Reiner’s affectionate yet lacerating take on head-bangers.
The Aristocrats is literally a one-joke movie, but unlike a lot of lame comedies out there, this time it’s intentional. What we have here is a 90-minute dissection of what is allegedly the world’s filthiest joke. What’s most interesting about The Joke is that it’s not really funny. At least, the punchline is a total anti-climax compared to what has gone before.
If nothing else, The Right Stuff could go down in history as the movie that could have elected a President. At a time when the Democratic party was looking for a viable candidate to challenge Ronald Reagan in 1984, the image of Ed Harris as John Glenn, the squeaky clean All-American with the can-do attitude filled them with hope that the real former astronaut turned senator could help them re-capture the White House. I think the film may have actually hurt Glenn in the long run. While he was an American hero, a capable senator and probably would have made an able president, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, he’s no Ed Harris, at least not in the charisma department.
Unfortunately, all the focus on political ramifications had nothing to do with the actual film, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Too bad, because it’s one of the best films of the 1980s, taking real life personalities and molding them into something like a modern American myth.