We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
After exposing the silly sides of small-town theater, dog shows, and has-been folkies, Christopher Guest has now targeted Hollywood—which is kind of like a class bully picking on the headgear-wearing kid with asthma. But just because its concept is easy doesn’t mean For Your Consideration isn’t funny. This mockumentary takes place on the set of Home for Purim, a World War II–era piece about a Southern Jewish family getting together to celebrate its dying matriarch’s favorite holiday. After the camera’s been rolling for a few days, word trickles out that somehow, somewhere on “the thing with e-mail” known as the Internet, a gossip site has mentioned that Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara), the actress who plays the sick mother, is turning in an Oscar-worthy performance. (It does take a certain something to deliver lines that include both magnolia similes and such Yiddishisms as “meshuggah.”) And so begins the skyrocketing media exposure that can result from a bit of buzz, especially the forest-for-the-trees kind over an actually terrible film. Consideration is crafted in Guest’s usual style—the story’s broadly penned by the director and Eugene Levy, but the dialogue is largely improvised. Ricky Gervais joins Guest’s sizable go-to ensemble (which most notably includes Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, John Michael Higgins, and Michael McKean) and unleashes one of the best lines when his studio suit tries to persuade the writers (Bob Balaban and McKean) to tone down Purim’s “Jewishness.” But nearly everyone enjoys a moment of excellence: Jane Lynch nails the posture and set-in-stone expression as the Leeza-like host of an entertainment show called Hollywood Now, Coolidge injects absurdity into her portrayal of an airheaded producer who once “fell over the side of an escalator,” and Carrie Aizley lobs perfect softballs as a dippy celebrity journalist. Willard and Guest are funny enough as sight gags: Guest, as Purim’s helmer, sports long shorts, a potbelly, and a Jewfro while Willard rocks a fauxhawk as Hollywood Now’s co-host—though Willard runs away with Consideration’s end as his TV personality tackles a segment of cringe-inducing interviews. Guest’s mark might be huge, but his characters remain distinctly and expertly oblivious.