Movie Review By Erik Petersen
I saw "Bowfinger" recently and couldn't help thinking of my friend Cymerint. When I was in the seventh grade I used to hang out at Cym's house where we'd flip through the latest issue of "Rolling Stone" or play some Nerf hoops. Then one day his sister got the new Steve Martin album, "A Wild and Crazy Guy". Cym put the "Best Fishes" picture of Steve on his wall. We put the album on the turntable and the world of comedy was never the same.
"Bowfinger" re-teams Steve and director Frank Oz who worked together on the hysterical "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." In the past few years while most of Steve's choices as an actor have been questionable he has blossomed as a comedy writer. His semi-regular contributions to "The New Yorker" can only compare to early Woody Allen in their mind tripping absurdity and intellectual teasing. For the first time since 1994 Steve took on writing and acting duties for "Bowfinger" and it shows.
Steve plays lovable loser director Bobby Bowfinger, the consummate optimist who can’t help conning everyone he meets. He's funny, especially his riffs on the Hollywood powerbrokers but he mostly plays straight man to the silliness around him. And there's plenty. Eddie Murphy is nothing short of brilliant in a dual role as both the self-centered, paranoid Kit Ramsey and his nebbish, orthodontically challenged brother Jiff who prefers running errands to acting.
Murphy’s rants as petulant action hero Kit Ramsey are great. He demands to know for instance why all the good scripts go to the white action heroes, Stallone, Van Damme and Jackie Chan and those guys can't even speak good English. His terrified agent can only cower with fear as Kit fires his gun repeatedly off a nearby drum kit for emphasis.
The skewering of the Hollywood based religion Scientology is wickedly funny as well. Terrence Stamp plays the head of an organization called Mind Head. He calmly tries to reassure Kit that there is no alien conspiracy as he counsels him against acting on his perverse obsession with the Laker Girls. Absolutely priceless stuff.
The supporting characters all do a wonderful job. Heather Graham's Midwestern ingenue Daisy wastes no time sleeping her way to nowhere. Christine Baranski's aging drama queen is also hilarious as she shares insights on their work together with the bewildered Kit Ramsey.
Sure I miss Steve's stream of consciousness ramblings that Cym and I loved on that landmark record album but "Bowfinger" is funny as hell and in testament to Steve's comedic prowess it never once reaches for the raunch to raise a laugh. I'm Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 8/18/99
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