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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Appreciation for the films of Christopher Guest requires one to have a sense of humor that is simultaneously dry and silly. His “mockumentary” trilogy - Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind - is packed with eccentric, usually odd-looking characters who engage in behavior that is often almost subtle in its weirdness, at least when compared to most mainstream comedies. For Your Consideration, arriving on DVD Feb. 20 from Warner Home Video, abandons the mockumentary format, yet retains the show-business obsession that is common to all the films Guest and collaborator Eugene Levy turn out.

As always, Guest has reassembled his reparatory company of actors. If there’s a central figure this time, though, it’s Catherine O’Hara, who plays veteran actress Marilyn Hack. She’s shooting a new picture called “Home for Purim” when word arrives that an anonymous internet blogger has suggested her performance might be Oscar-worthy. Marilyn asks publicist Corey Taft (the always hilarious John Michael Higgins) to get online and find out more. “Internet?” he asks. “Is that the one with e-mail?”

The buzz starts to build, with awards talk for co-stars Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer) and Callie Webb (Parker Posey) also starting to grow. The studio suits, Martin Gibb (Ricky Gervais) and Syd Finkleman (Larry Miller), see a chance to boost their picture’s box office potential in light of the acclaim. They convince the director (Guest) and writers (Michael McKean and Bob Balaban) to drop a lot of the Jewish context to make it less ethnic; this means that “Home for Purim” eventually becomes known as “Home for Thanksgiving.” Suddenly, everyone involved in the production seems to be more worried about how to solidify their Oscar chances than they are in making a good film.

For Your Consideration may be a little too insider-ish for viewers unfamiliar with the very real workings of awards hype. However, if you follow such things – which, these days, many non-industry people do with great seriousness – there are plenty of knowing laughs to be found. Some of the most clever bits come in the final half hour, when the fictional stars make the promo rounds for their movie. Even the older, very dignified Victor Allan Miller appears on an MTV show to bust a few dance moves. The film understands the idea that, despite false humility, everyone in Hollywood is insecure and would love to win an Oscar as personal validation. When it appears as though one is in the running for that most acclaimed of awards, it can do something to a celebrity’s frame of mind.

Another highlight is a running bit involving the self-absorbed co-hosts of an “infotainment” show along the lines of “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood.” Jane Lynch (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) is perfect as an even more glamour-addicted Mary Hart, while the hysterical Fred Willard nails that “I am the real story” sense of misguided ego that fuels Billy Bush’s career. (Also, Willard + mohawk = big laughter.)

There are also solid comic turns from Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley, Jr. and “The Office” star John Krasinski. Most everyone here has appeared in other Christopher Guest films. They are capable of playing off one another with the precision that any good comedy troupe requires. I don’t know that For Your Consideration has any deeper meaning beyond its show-biz spoofing, but it is certainly fun to watch and definitely good for a few decent laughs.

The DVD bonus features are the original theatrical trailer, a witty audio commentary from Guest and Levy, and over 30 minutes of amusing deleted scenes that, for the most part, are just as good as anything in the film itself.

( out of four)

For Your Consideration is rated PG-13 for sexual references and brief language. The running time is 1 hour and 26 minutes.

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