Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy have three things in common. They are both comedic titans, they were staples of Saturday Night Live, and they starred in one of the funniest movies of the 90’s. Bowfinger was a showing that Martin was still a wild and crazy guy just like he was with Dan Aykroyd in the 70’s and Murphy was still a box office draw in one of his funniest roles since Coming to America in 1988. It took so long to put these two together and with director Frank Oz at the helm. This had all the ingredients to be a damn good comedy. However, some misunderstood it as too dry and not very funny. To those people, shame on you!
Axel Foley and George Banks together on the screen for the first time, Hallelujah!
Bowfinger was written and starred Martin as Bobby Bowfinger, a once successful movie producer who has lately flamed out until his part time assistant brought him a script called Chubby Rain, an sci fi epic that had the potential for Bowfinger to become part of the FedEx’s daily route delivering a few scripts for him to look over. However, all he had was some low level connections and the promise of a movie executive Jerry Renfro (played by Robert Downey Jr.) that (as a joke) told him to bring him the biggest action star, Kit Ramsey and the picture is a “Go.” Ramsey is played with paranoia and over the top hilarity by Murphy. I knew this was going to be hilarious when I heard Murphy being his fast talking self and complaining about how many times the letter “K” is said in this latest pitched script by his manager (played by Barry Newman). If you understand this joke, you will laugh yourself silly like I did with my Summer Wheat beer in my hand.
Before he was Iron Man, Martin reminded Hollywood that Downey is gifted.
Suddenly, Bowfinger goes to Ramsey to recruit him but fails with one toss out of his limo. The film is going to be low budgeted, so low that he recruits Mexicans on the run from the border patrol and shoots the movie with Kit without him knowing. Meanwhile, Ramsey is so damn paranoid that he goes to the company, MindHead, which satirizes Scientology in Hollywood. It’s ran like a cult by their creator played with wit by Terrance Stamp, who rattles off his lines with bizarre normality. He gives Ramsey some happy promises except one that no matter what he knows he’ll act upon. Martin also shows little Kit to the Laker Girls, believing they need to be brought down a peg.
It just shows that Martin has experienced these kind of events and satirizes them like crazy but at the same time gives us supporting characters we care about. Carol (played by Christine Baranski), Slater, an up and coming “it star” (played by Kohl Sudduth), and an girl from Ohio looking to be a star, Daisy (played smartly by Heather Graham). They are looking for their big break, their calling card to the A-list, to crew list members, to auditions as a whole. So it’s a Hollywood satire with heart; that’s rare nowadays.
You’re doing great. Jif (double taked by Murphy) mutters to Daisy (Heather Graham) Haha, awkward.
What works so well in this film is the laid back but smart direction by Frank Oz. Oz creates realism with the little guys. Having them shooting a scene outside of Ramsey’s home, stalking him at a restaurant while the actors are doing their job unaware to Ramsey, and even setting up chase after chase with such brilliance. Murphy and Martin make a top notch duo, just hitting off of each other step by step, especially when they recruit their Ramsey look-alike, Jif, after MindHead puts Ramsey in their celebrity quarters, basically rehab.
The look-alike has a secret though and when it comes out, Murphy is so poignant and likable that you begin rooting for this simpleton as well. Martin’s writing is ironic and truthful to the ridiculousness of Hollywood. Because who actually believes that some of these actresses got to the top by themselves? Seriously, some famously slept around to get to the top. Not mentioning names, but Daisy emphasizes that at an all-time high, trust me. There’s also the heartthrob that gets more kicks making out than filming and even a screenwriter being forced to pump the “hot scenes” and showing that a budget is more than the price of sets and actors’ salaries. In the end, Martin makes fun of financial greed with a hilarious rant and pulls off an original ending that pulls the satire and heart together.
This is the kind of comedy that Hollywood has unfortunately got away from and it’s great to see back in the day that guys like Martin and Murphy weren’t afraid to satirize their career. Martin said himself that he was proud that he wrote this. I was just happy to see that they still remember what gave them the license to trying new things. Even with their missteps, Bowfinger is a reminder that they were born to be funny.
Take a Drink: each time you see Bowfinger say “AND CUT.”
Take a Drink: each time you hear Murphy go on a hilarious rant
Do a Shot: each time you see Daisy score with another member of the cast and crew
Chug It: when Murphy is paranoid