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   BOWFINGER (1999) 

[Get the Poster]

CAST
Steve Martin
Eddie Murphy
Heather Graham
Christine Baranski
Jamie Kennedy
Adam Alexi-Malle
Robert Downey Jr.
Terence Stamp

DIRECTED BY
Frank Oz

PURCHASE


DVD



DVD




Time: 98 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Official Web Site
Genre: Comedy


I am a huge Steve Martin fan. LA STORY and PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES are two of my all-time favorite movies. So, when I heard that he wrote and was starring in BOWFINGER I couldn't wait to see it. There's nothing funnier than Steve Martin when he's "on." Unfortunately, BOWFINGER just didn't do it for me. It was funny, but most of the best scenes were in the trailer...and they weren't made better by the context of the movie. I had high hopes for the film. The idea of it is brilliant. It just went wrong in the making...like so many of the films it was spoofing.

One of the things that was most disappointing was the total lack of character development. Nobody, even producer Bobby Bowfinger, grew or changed over the course of the film. They all had their roles to play – hack producer, aging theater actress, the screenwriting accountant, the dumb hunk actor and the slutty ingenue – and they played them well, but I never for a moment believed they were real people. Not always necessary in a comedy, but found in all the good ones.

The one reason this movie stays afloat and is funny at all is Eddie Murphy. He is brilliant as megastar Kit Ramsey, an actor who has everything except his sanity, and his geeky, younger brother Jiff, a guy who just wants to be accepted for himself not for who he's related to. Through mere body language and voice, Murphy is able to create two very distinct characters – both hysterically funny. I'm glad to see Murphy back on the top of his game. It's been a long time since he's been this funny without special effects. Martin wrote a wonderful part for him, it's too bad he didn't work his magic on the rest of the script. There's an energy Murphy brings to the proceedings that is distinctly lacking when he's not onscreen.


"She had the personality of a ZIP code in Kansas."

The idea behind BOWFINGER is unique and interesting with great comic potential. Using his last bit of money and dignity, producer Bobby Bowfinger (Martin) tries to get Kit Ramsey (Murphy), action super star to be in his latest and final film, "CHUBBY RAIN". He doesn't have the heart to tell his stable of actors that Kit has refused to be in the film, so with the help of his camerman they proceed to make the movie – without Kit's knowledge. They discover where Kit's going to be and have the actors go up to him and say their lines. Kit has no idea he's being filmed and truly believes what the actors are saying. Already on the verge of losing his sanity, these encounters push him right over the edge. When he disappears, Bowfinger is forced to find a look-a-like until he resurfaces.

They almost have to give up when Kit's spitting image walks in the door. Well, Jiff has braces, longer hair and is obviously a geek, but they don't have time to split hairs. He's willing to be in the film, so he'll have to do. After a minor makeover, he looks close enough to Kit to be convincing from a distance, so the shoot moves along. Everything is going well until the big finale sequence. Things get appropriately out-of-hand – especially when the leader of Mind Head (played by Terrence Stamp) who's placed himself in charge of Kit's mental and financial well-being discovers what's been going on. With the film confiscated – they can't use it without Kit's permission – things look bleak. Of course, Bobby doesn't stay down for long. An embarrassing moment of Kit's caught on a background reel of film puts the film quickly back on track. In the end, everyones dream come true. They're ligitimate filmmakers.

BOWFINGER isn't a total loss. It has some wonderful moments, but they come few and far between. There just wasn't enough funny new material (scenes not used in the trailer) to make this a great film. There are certain plays on reality, like the Mexican farmworkers becoming a first class film crew, that are clever, but overall I was more bored than amused. The thing that really has me perplexed is why the critics love this film so much. They may think this is funniest movie of the year (though I think ANALYZE THIS is ten times better) and if that's the case, that's not saying much. If you want to see Eddie Murphy being funny, than you'll enjoy this movie. Otherwise, it's a crap shoot.


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