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Bowfinger (1999)

The con is on

Directed by:

Frank Oz

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 92 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

Could it really be possible for a low-rent movie producer to make a Hollywood blockbuster by filming a big-time action star in secret? The answer, of course, is no. It’s a ridiculous idea. But ‘Bowfinger’ is a ridiculous film – and, what’s more, for the most part it works tremendously well.

Steve Martin, delivering arguably his finest comic performance for the best part of a decade, is Bobby Bowfinger, the struggling film-maker in question. When we join him he’s drinking at the last chance saloon – the unpaid bills are piling up, his most trusted associates want nothing more to do with him, and even his pet pooch looks like it’s having second thoughts about sticking by this loser. He’s not so much a has-been as a never-was.

Suddenly, though, there’s a glimmer of hope for this no-mark when the script for a new flick lands on his desk. It’s called ‘Chubby Rain’ and, funnily enough, it’s penned by his chubby accountant (Adam Alexi-Malle). Using every trick in the book – and plenty of brand new ones – he sets about making the movie of a lifetime. The only thing is, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy), the major star he wants to take the lead role, won’t play ball – so Bowfinger and his ramshackle crew decide to film him anyway.

Wacky funster Martin also wrote the film, and so deserves extra credit for two particularly chortlesome scenes – the first coming midway through when he makes a frantic Murphy run across a busy motorway, and the second a short martial arts spoof coming right at the very end of the proceedings. Those highlights are by no means the only reasons why this film is certainly worth a watch.

Though ‘Bowfinger’ can’t match up to the previous bests of either Martin or Murphy, for both stars (on screen together here for the first time) it marks a notable up-turn in form. Murphy plays the double-role of both Kit and his hilariously geeky brother Jiff, and is marvellous in both guises. For Martin, so marvellous to watch in those 80s comedies like Roxanne, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, this marks his best comic performance for the best part of a decade. Let’s hope both stars can prove their doubters wrong again on at least a couple more occasions. It’s films like this one that remind you why the two of them were once so massively popular.

It's Got: Alien invaders, some deliberately dodgy special effects, and Heather Graham.

It Needs: To show us what “chubby rain” actually looks like. I suppose it’s just like normal rain, only chubbier.

DVD Extras Audio commentary from director Frank Oz (which is much more entertaining if you pretend it’s Fozzie the Bear who’s talking to you), a ‘Spotlight On Location’ featurette, deleted scenes, out-takes, production notes, cast and crew info, and a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Summary

A return to the comedic glory days of Messrs Martin and Murphy – or pretty close, at least.

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