Martin plays Bobby Bowfinger, the head of Bowfinger International Pictures.
Though the name sounds impressive, it's really just Bobby, doing business
out of his home and struggling to fend off his creditors. When we meet him
he has just finished reading what he calls a "great script": an
alien-attacks-Earth story called Chubby Rain. Bursting with excitement,
he calls up the writer, Afrim (Italian-born Adam Alexi-Malle), and tells
him he wants to produce the film. Afrim has a large family to support but
gleefully gives up his accountant job under the assumption that he's going
to be a famous Hollywood writer. Then Bobby calls his cameraman, Dave (Jamie
Kennedy), a gofer and car wash boy at a large studio who makes liberal use
of cars and filming equipment "borrowed" from his clients. And
then there's the supporting cast, diva Carol (Christine Baranski) and romantic
leads Slater (Kohl Sudduth) and Daisy (Heather Graham). Now all Bobby needs
is a star.
Kit Ramsey (Murphy) is the hottest black actor in Hollywood, a spoiled,
anti-white prima donna. He is also in therapy to deal with 1) his irrational
fear of an alien attack, and 2) his uncontrollable desire to expose himself
to the L.A. Lakers' cheerleaders. As Bobby begins work on Chubby Rain,
he decides Kit is the perfect lead. To get around the sticky detail of having
to pay the superstar, he decides to simply make the film without
Kit's knowing it. "We'll have our actors go up to him and say their
lines, we'll film his reaction, and that's it he'll be in the picture."
For close-ups and stunts, he finds a Kit Ramsey lookalike named Jiff (also
Murphy). Jiff is a shy, geeky errand boy who is just as thrilled to be getting
coffee for the cast as he is to be starring in Bobby's film.
What results is a hilarious amateur picture with our cast overacting
every line, approaching the panicked actor on the street with heated questions
about aliens, and gory special effects, all of which take Kit on a one-way
trip to Freakout City. And Dave and Bobby are always there, hiding in the
bushes with the camera rolling.
This is the fourth Steve Martin movie directed by Frank Oz [after Little
Shop Of Horrors (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), and Housesitter
(1992)], and, like the others, it is tons of fun. Martin's screenplay starts
out rather slowly, but when the movie-within-a-movie gimmick gets under
way, there are some truly hysterical moments and many subtle jabs at the
American film industry. Murphy's performance is classic; it's hard to tell
which part is funnier. And the backup performances are a riot, with Graham
and Baranski wallowing in their overacting it is obvious that Oz
told them to just have fun and go all the way with it. Speaking of going
all the way, another amusing subplot is Graham's Daisy sleeping with every
member of the cast and crew in order to work her way up the ladder to success.
Every time she discovered someone was "in charge" of something,
there she'd be, er networking.
Bowfinger is a lot of fun, and a new feather in the cap for Martin, Oz, and Murphy. ****½
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