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Click for full size poster

Bowfinger

Starring Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin; Heather Graham, Christine Baranski, Terrence Stamp
Screenplay by Steve Martin
Directed by Frank Oz
website: www.bowfinger.com

IN SHORT: A delirious and insanely funny Eddie Murphy-Steve Martin flick. [Rated [PG-13], 97 minutes]

Cranky wishes he had bought popcorn futures when he had the chance 'cuz we're on such a run of fast paced fun flicks that I'm having serious trouble maintaining this Cranky veneer. What makes it even worse is that, very close to the beginning of Bowfinger which, unlike Holy Man, is an Eddie Murphy movie, the number one action star in the entire BF-Universe, Kit Ramsey turns full figure to the camera and proclaims "We're trying to make a movie here, not a film!"

And how many Fall Oscar® wannabe Seasons have come and gone with poor old Cranky trying to explain the difference? For once, we get a movie that sets out purely to entertain strictly on the simplest level. By whacking the funnybone with all the strength it can muster. And not a single vomit joke or instance of gratuitous nudity in any of the whacks. Good old fashioned funny stuff.

This may be one of those times when I get more than my fair share of the jokes, having worked both sides of the film production fence. Simply, anyone who sees enough movies to have a general image of what "Hollywood" is like won't have any trouble following this sabre-sharp satire of what the have-nots in Hollywood will do to become part of the in-crowd, that crowd being the respected (however temporary) A-list producers.

Let's begin with Robert "Bobby" Bowfinger (Steve Martin), sole proprietor of Bowfinger International, a run down hacienda somewhere in the lesser neighborhoods of LA. Bowfinger, known for his commercial work and extraordinary documentary "The Yugo Story" is down to his last nickel when he discovers the script that he thinks will turn his dregs of a life into gold. It's called Chubby Rain, featuring an invasion of aliens so tiny they ride raindrops. Thus, chubby. The problem is, the only way to get it made is to have a heavy duty producer behind you. Someone like Jerry Renfro (Robert Downey Jr.) who will support the project only if a name-brand star signs for the title role. Someone like Kit Ramsey (Murphy) a paranoid racist superstar, firmly in the clutches of a support organization called Mind Head (which is not like Scientology at all. My lawyers say I should say that so I don't get sued) whose upper member wear standard gray suits (n.l.s.a.a.) and who use a brain-meter to monitor their members actions and emotions (n.l.s.a.a.). Bowfinger comes up with the idea that, as long as they get it in one take and shoot covertly, they can walk up to the star and do their stuff and bingo! A film.

Let's talk about the cast, 'cuz to say much more about the story would mean revealing the jokes and though there are many, many of them, they just build up upon each other until entrepreneur comes into conflict with the gray suited ruler of Mind Head, Terry Stricter (Terence Stamp). I won't spoil it. There's Carol (Christine Baranski), who passes up a small way-Off-Broadway part to do her finest work, a la Norma Desmond. Daisy (Heather Graham), fresh off the bus from Ohio, but a sexual manipulator par excellence. Scream star Jamie Kennedy is Bowfinger's right hand cameraman and newcomer Adam Alexi-Malle is the accountant turned screenwriter, who gets to show off all the top-dollar (well, maybe top half-dollar) special effects. Finally, there's Jiff (also Eddie Murphy) a soft-brained lookalike who does all the hard parts and makes runs to the local Starbucks. With stolen equipment and the cheapest crew possible, Bowfinger manages to undercut the legendary Troma Films by producing his epic on a staggering budget of $2814.

Eddie Murphy does his best work when he plays more than one character. Here, doing only a pair he delivers his sharpest work since Dr. Dolittle 1. Steve Martin, also responsible for the script, continues to prove that the less crazy he gets, the funnier he gets. And director Frank Oz continues to prove that he's got a substantial talent, even when his hand isn't up a Muppet's butt.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bowfinger, he would have paid...

$7.00

At the bottom of Bowfinger, is the simple fact that this pathetic little man does what he does because he's made promises to his friends that he will not break. It could have been exploited for a big "Aw" but it wasn't. Thanks, Frank. All the characters fit some kind of stereotype; all are 2 1/2 dimensional, but that's more than fine for a killer popcorn flick.

Click to buy films by Frank Oz
Click to buy films starring Eddie Murphy
Click to buy films starring Steve Martin

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.