Writer/actor Christopher Guest helped pioneer the mockumentary with This Is Spinal Tap in 1984. Since then he's lampooned many a strange subculture, but For Your Consideration is a more ambitious enterprise. Here, he directs what is basically a "spot-on satire" of the Hollywood film industry, re-teaming with old cohorts like Eugene Levy (who co-wrote the script). It's got cult written all over it.
As Guest and his usual company of actors like to improvise, there are plenty of off-cuts to relish in the special features menu. Eighteen scenes amount to over half-an-hour of footage, and you see more of the brilliant Catherine O'Hara as impressionable actress Marilyn Hack, as well as the underrated Jennifer Coolidge doing her doddering old blonde routine. She gets schmoozed by none other than Ricky Gervais (as Martin Gibb), whose chat up lines include, "I've got eczema..."
It seems right that Fred Willard should get a little more screen time (as deluded actor Chuck). He makes a great doubleact with Jane Lynch (Cindy), demanding that she sit in a different chair so that she doesn't look taller than him - even when the cameras aren't rolling! The most surreal footage (but not necessarily the funniest) sees British comedienne Nina Conti doing her ventriloquist act with Monk the Monkey, while presenting the weather forecast for Wake Up LA! Now, if only Ulrika Johnsson had thought of that...
A Time For Reflection
Eugene Levy sits in with Guest for the film commentary. It's a very laidback affair with plenty of bone-dry oneliners thrown into the mix. "Morally we tried to lower the bar as far as we could," explains Levy, leaving it to Guest to explain that it's the characters who are amoral rather than the people who created them... Still, Levy reckons he didn't work hard to get into the character of agent Morley Orfkin, merely crafting a silly wig and carrying a bottle of foot spray around.
Guest and Levy also talk seriously about building the story on a series of "fragile moments" that gradually snowball into huge crises. Guest adds that it's difficult to keep a measure of this delicate process while on the set, which is why he often works with the same circle of actors - people he trusts to extract the humour from a situation without tipping the balance.
Unfortunately, there are no interviews with the leading cast members. A gallery for Home For Purim - the film-within-the-film - rounds off the extras. It's a modestly packaged DVD, but avid fans of Guest and co will surely get a kick out of it. Of course embittered industry players mightn't laugh as hard...
For Your Consideration DVD is released on Monday 4th June 2007.