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For Your Consideration

Guest Returns With the Slightest of Satires

Since 1996, Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy have churned out a string of faux- documentaries skewering all manners of theatrical productions. Their first, Waiting For Guffman, tossed gentle barbs at small-town theater, often with hilarious results; Best In Show followed with a gleefully biting satire of the Westminster Kennel Club show and the overzealous dog owners who gussy up their pets for prizes. Guest and Levy went to the well once again with A Mighty Wind, poking good-natured fun at a televised folk-music concert, but by then the formula had grown noticeably stale.

Their latest, For Your Consideration, wisely abandons the documentary format in favor of a more conventional narrative, and though their stylized approach has changed, the comedy feels the same. This time, they take aim at Hollywood -- the ego-driven actors, fawning publicists, two-faced agents and intrusive reporters. This is familiar territory for Guest, who covered the same ground in 1989’s The Big Picture, a genial satire starring Kevin Bacon and Martin Short. Here, he is flanked by his informal comedy troupe, featuring the superlative talents of Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Harry Shearer, Catherine O’Hara and Parker Posey.

In the past, Guest and Levy have famously crafted their comedies using 12-15 page story outlines, allowing the actors to fill in the blanks with improvised dialogue. For Your Consideration finds them working off a full-bodied script, proving that more can sometimes produce less. These jokes, like the characters who embody them, are nothing new. Levy plays an agent whose interest in the welfare of his client is famously fair-weather. John Michael Higgins has an even more thankless task, playing a feather-brained publicist who’s somehow managed to land a job in Hollywood without having heard of the Internet. Uh-huh.

Some of the film’s funniest scenes come from another movie altogether – “Home For Purim”, an absurd, imaginary tearjerker about a Jewish family from the Deep South. For Your Consideration follows the stars of “Purim” as they work themselves into a frenzy over Internet rumors of an Oscar buzz. The joke, of course, is that a movie of this caliber would never get made, much less generate Oscar buzz, but that doesn’t stop Shearer and O’Hara from launching shameless and sometimes humiliating publicity campaigns.

In the end, For Your Consideration lacks the inspiration to leave a lasting impression, but there are several noteworthy performances. Lynch, for one, is ideally cast as the pathologically perky co-anchor of “Entertainment Now,” a spot-on parody of Access Hollywood and its ilk. Willard, as her obliviously outspoken partner, delivers a raucous performance that is a real joy to behold.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars