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"Bowfinger"

Directed by Frank Oz.
Written by Steve Martin.
Starring Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and Heather Graham.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  8/15/99

Folks--

I must admit, this movie was one of the flicks that I have been looking forward to all summer, since I first saw the preview for it and Eddie Murphy, wearing some ridiculous old-school glasses, is auditioning for a part in Steve Martin's new movie, and Martin asks "Are you willing to show your bare buttocks on screen?"  Murphy's reaction is just classic, and even though you've seen it in the previews, it is still just as funny when you see it during the full-length movie.

Thankfully, "Bowfinger" is funny throughout.  The title refers to one of the worst low-budget directors of all time, Bobby Bowfinger (Martin), and as the movie opens he has just read a script that he thinks is the ticket out of the B-movie purgatory that he currently works in, an alien sci-fi action movie called "Chubby Rain."  After a "meeting" with a high-ranking Hollywood executive (Robert Downey Jr.), Bowfinger figures that the only way that his fledgling production company will actually get his film rolling is to add the biggest action star in Hollywood, Kit Ramsey (Murphy).  Only one problem:  Ramsey meets Bowfinger and immediately tosses him out of a car, so Bowfinger figures that he will do the next best thing to asking Ramsey to star in his film--he *won't* ask him, he'll just have the other film's actors run into Ramsey on the streets of Los Angeles and say their lines!

Can it work?  Penelope, her sister Melissa, and myself all thought that it did, and the ridiculous ways that Bowfinger shoots these scenes around Ramsey's shock at meeting people everyday that won't stop talking about aliens comes off pretty well.  There is some of the funniest stuff I have seen in a couple of years in this movie--the way Bowfinger goes out and hires "the best production team money can buy" and the epilogue, "Fake Purse Ninjas"--and plenty of really creative ways that Bowfinger's crack movie-making machine come out with money camera shots.

All of the acting is strong here, with Steve Martin playing up to form in a movie that he scripted on his own.  Murphy actually is playing two roles here, but his Kit Ramsey gets a lot of the funny things to say as he constantly riffs about being a black action star in white Hollywood.  Plus, of course, he is the one that is being chased all around town by Bowfinger's other cast members.  Seth Green, as far as I could tell uncredited but nevertheless is appearing in his 2,477th film of this summer, is good as Martin's cameraman.  Other support by Downey Jr. and Terence Stamp as Ramsey's spiritual healer and consultant is pretty solid.

OK, take four seconds and think:  who is the hottest young typecast actress in Hollywood right now?

1...2...3...4.

Yep, you guessed it:  Heather Graham!!  Here, once again, she is playing the sweet, innocent, slightly unintelligent girl that is giving the sex away like it's her job!!  This time, instead of wearing around rollerblades or a secret agent badge, she gets to wear a lot of loud colors and bang every person on Bowfinger's staff in an attempt to earn more scenes and status on the set of the movie.  I'm sure that Heather Graham is a nice girl, but if she doesn't do something besides this character type soon, she's in for a long, thankless career.

Negatives:  although I'm sure that in some scenes it was intentional (like a love scene between Graham and Martin), some of the lines in this movie are ridiculous, kept simple so that everyone in the audience could keep up.  And a couple of the plot devices, like how Bowfinger blackmails Stamp's character near the end of the movie, seemed to be gratuitously inserted to just make the plot work; I thought that Martin could have come up with a better way to finish his in-plot movie.  But, these are little things, since the movie as a whole is very, very funny.

Rating:  $7.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09