DVD Review: ‘Bowfinger’

I hadn’t seen Bowfinger since its theatrical release in 1999. It wasn’t a super smash hit (it grossed $99M worldwide), and it pretty much has gone under the radar since. But I watched this little gem recently, and would give it my ‘Netflix this’ stamp of approval, but this is a film for people who love movies and the movie business. That’s not to say it’s inaccessible to regular folk, but the humor resonates a little more if you’ve worked in the film industry.

Bowfinger

What’s it about? Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is a wannabe filmmaker whose latest project, “Chubby Rain,” would be the perfect film for mega-superstar Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy). The only problem is that Bobby’s a nobody and Kit is not interested (and excessively paranoid, thinking aliens are out to get him). Bobby then has a brilliant idea: make a movie with Kit without him knowing he’s in the movie.

Bobby enlists his actors to approach Kit and say their lines while a camera hides out of view and films everything. “Chubby Rain” is a sci-fi adventure, so when the actors recite their deliciously butchered lines, Kit really thinks aliens are out to get him. At the advice of Terry Stickler (Terence Stamp), leader of MindHead (a Scientology-like organization), Kit lays low for a couple of days.

Without their (unwitting) star, Bobby can’t finish the picture. Enter Jiff (also played by Eddie Murphy), a nerdy lookalike who fills in for Kit for wide shots and one particularly funny action sequence. The film raises the question: how far would you go to make the movie of your dreams?

What’s good about it? Here, ladies and gentlemen, is proof that EDDIE MURPHY CAN ACT. Regardless of what you think about his recent on-screen roles (I walked out of Norbit), Murphy can be funny without being over the top. Both his roles as Kit and Jiff show his range and gives us a little taste of what he is capable of. Too bad he chooses cruddy material so often.

Steve Martin wrote the script, and it crackles with wit, clever physical comedy and painfully funny truths about the Hollywood system.

What’s bad about it? There’s quite a bit of sex-related humor (Heather Graham plays a conniving girl-next-door type who sleeps with almost everyone in the cast and crew), and even though it’s only 97 minutes long, the film lags in some places. But overall it’s a clever, biting satire of Hollywood culture where BS and selfishness are the norm.

Perfect for: showbiz types.

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