mon 22/04/2024

Fool's Paradise review - unfunny stab at making fun of Hollywood | reviews, news & interviews

Fool's Paradise review - unfunny stab at making fun of Hollywood

Fool's Paradise review - unfunny stab at making fun of Hollywood

Charlie Day's comedy is loaded with cameos but very low on laughs

Paradise lost: Ken Jeong and Charlie DaySignature Entertainment

It must have looked like a funny idea on paper: a mute innocent stumbles into a Hollywood career, is mindlessly fêted by the industry and throws all its idiocies into stark relief. It’s an idea as old as the romances of Chretien de Troyes and Voltaire’s Candide, and was given an earlier Hollywood outing in Being There. But the lack of originality of the basic premise isn’t the problem here. 

Because lovable Charlie Day, star of the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is the begetter of this script, as well as its director and star, all manner of famous faces have pitched in to increase its wattage. Alas, they have signed up for one of the unfunniest scripts ever committed to the screen, delivered with a heavy hand and beyond the reach of celebrity cameos to rescue it. Each star appearance makes you realise how desperately the film actually needs some funny dialogue for them to speak.

Poor Ray Liotta, in one of his final roles, is the first Really Big Star to stumble into this arena, as a raging producer who arrives on-set in a Porsche at the end of his tether with his leading man, who is refusing to leave his trailer. Enter the mute, previously diagnosed by a psych ward as possessing the mentality of a five-year-old, running away from incarceration.

Liotta first accidentally gives the mute a name, Latte Pronto, when he yells for coffee and all assume that’s what the strange little guy who doesn’t talk is called. Then he gives Latte the lead role, because he looks just like the rebellious lead actor. Latte soon meets a tough casting director (Edie Falco) and gets an instant publicist, played turned up to 13 by Ken Leong, a deluded loser who keeps trying to break into the big time, whom Latte encounters at a hip party stuffed with self-important nobodies. 

Adrien Brody in Fool's ParadiseLatte then becomes a blank screen onto which all around him can project their desires and obsessions. They answer their own questions when he doesn’t, the ultimate form of self-assertion. He gains a wildly glamorous wife, Christiana Dior (Kate Beckinsale), an unhinged beauty whose portable pet is a large white rabbit; she in turn is pursued by Chad (Adrien Brody, pictured left), a hammily lecherous actor playing a cowboy with a terrible "Wild West" accent. Neither of them raises so much as a titter as they desperately gurn through their dialogue.

More unfunniness comes courtesy of Jasons Sudeikis and Jason Bateman, the former as a long-haired idiot director in a pith helmet, the latter inexplicably wielding a tennis-ball cannon. We get an unfunny car ride in a vintage car, an unfunny fight that lands Latte in hospital.

It doesn’t help that Day believes jaunty music will automatically make an unfunny scene funny, or that he thinks he can make the mute hilarious simply by raising his eyebrows. Surely he noticed that Chaplin’s great skill was to commit his whole body to Trampness? There is just one brief scene where Day achieves something similar – when he is left hanging in front of a green screen, feet dangling above the ground, dressed as a ludicrous character called Mosquito Boy. 

The climax of the cameoing comes in a subterranean bunker, where a hulking, sinister man is holding forth about the idiocies of Hollywood’s audiences. This is John Malkovich at his most disturbed-seeming, ranting about the stealing of audience jism by dumb movies. (In case the ejaculatory metaphor isn’t clear enough, Day supplies a clip of a gushing oil well.) The ultimate paradox, sadly, is that what demonstrates the idiocy of Hollywood most clearly of all is the fact that this film was made at all. 

It doesn’t help that Day believes jaunty music will automatically make an unfunny scene funny


Editor Rating: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)

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