Dust off the mantel, book the Botoxologist, do whatever it is that needs to be done when buzz rises to a supersonic whine as the awards season looms: The astute, Oscar-loving/Oscar-tweaking showbiz satire For Your Consideration is a shoo-in to sweep every trophy available in the competitive category of best coif in this crazy business we call show.
Truly, the level of tender, ruthless, inspired, lethally accurate study that has gone into the follicular expression of each and every character in Christopher Guest’s latest hilarious cultural corrective is something inspiring to behold. Eugene Levy (who co-wrote with Guest) goes for a tragically thinning Caesar cut as schlock agent Morley Orfkin. As magnificently ignorant and self-involved Hollywood Now TV cohost Chuck Porter, the incomparable Fred Willard sticks to a bleached and tufted faux-hawk.
Guest himself favors a cloud of frizz hoping to pass for Eraserhead cool to play Jay Berman, shlubby director of an indie period-piece drama infelicitously titled Home for Purim. The movie within the movie gathers a Jewish family — including father, son, and lesbian daughter (Parker Posey) — for the favorite holiday of the dying matriarch, Esther Pischer. (In Yiddish, pisher means ”bed wetter” — and, more broadly, a nobody.) The production is barely on the radar of the studio honcho (Ricky Gervais, British guest of Guest). But then veteran actress Marilyn Hack (Catherine O’Hara), who plays Esther, is mentioned in some blip on some blog as being Oscar-worthy. And soon the whole dum-dum production is twisted by hurricanes of hype, gusts that blow into enterprises as blithery as the Ebert/Roeper-like TV show Love It/Hate It, and as blathery as a Charlie Rose-like chin tugger. Soon enough, the buzzed-about actors have been cosmetically restyled, and the Jewishness has been steamed out. (Seriously, laurels and swag ought to be handed over to O’Hara for her brilliant portrayal of aging-actresshood.)
For Your Consideration doesn’t have the universal appeal of Guest’s Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman; the work is more inside baseball, more like A Mighty Wind, with its loving eye roll in the cultish direction of folksingers and their Birkenstocks. But something about that specialized self-mockery moves and tickles me even more, I think — the precision of the skewering, the scholarship in the details. By now the Guest rep company (also featuring Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, Michael McKean, and Larry Miller) runs with such economy of movement that a simple Mary Hart-felt squaring of the shoulders by Jane Lynch as Hollywood Now’s cohost reduces me to tears of joy — and this from a showbiz junkie at a magazine that has already run its first Oscar predictions before Thanksgiving. So if you like EW, you’ll love For Your Consideration. And you can quote me.