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Film Review: Bowfinger

The state of Steve Martin's career has often been a sorry one. His once recognisable genius been buried under a deluge of sentimental pap such as 'Father of the Bride 2'. Which is a pity, as those who saw the comedic brilliance of 'The Jerk' and 'Parenthood' will testify. However, he has made a giant step back in the right direction with 'Bowfinger', a movie he has spent the last 10 years writing and in which he takes the lead role.

Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy Team UpSteve Martin plays Bobby Bowfinger, a C-grade producer who discovers his "masterpiece" in the script for the action movie 'Chubby Rain'. He is determined to get star Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) for the lead role. But Ramsey does not want to be involved so Bowfinger, along with a rag tag bunch of supporters (Heather Graham, Christine Baranski and Eddie Murphy once again) plan to shoot the movie, starring Kit but without his knowledge.

It is a daring concept, and it could have been a complete mess. But Martin's script is packed with great gags and set ups. Veteran director Frank Oz allows the pace to flag at the start, but by the grand finale, the jokes are coming thick and fast. It is somewhat refreshing to see a comedy which does not rely on body fluids for its main gags.

The performances are uniformly excellent. Steve Martin plays the cynical hustler as only he can. Heather Graham is perfect as the 'innocent' girl who hides an iron edge. Of the supporting cast, Christine Baranski stands out as a has-been actress who believes she is essaying her greatest role. But it is Eddie Murphy in the contrasting roles of the narcisstic and paranoid Kit and the bumbling and innocent Jiff who shines, giving his best performance since 'The Nutty Professor'.

However, despite all the obvious talent involved, the film is still too slow in places to warrant becoming an all time great. It might also have benefited by being more cynical (most great comedies have a much harder edge than they are given credit for). But the 'Fake Purse Ninjas' (the film's highlight) should definitely be Martin's next script project (see the film and you will realise why!).

Due to sheer class and originality, this turns out to be the best comedy of the year.

Ian O'Sullivan

 

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