Comic duo push the (Oscar) envelope
The creators of 'For Your Consideration,' set out to poke fun at Hollywood egos.
Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy could each pack a megastar's trailer with solo credentials. Working together they are the undisputed kings of the cinematic sendup.
Broadway trained, Guest scored his writing breakthrough with the 1984 heavy-metal mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap," which had a generation of musicians cranking their amps up to level "11" in tribute. Canadian-born Levy – his prodigious eyebrows characters unto themselves – rose through Second City TV as a writer/performer of comedic sketches on his way to becoming a Hollywood staple. In 1985, he produced HBO's "The Last Polka," spawned from SCTV bits about – interestingly – a fictional band.
Over the past decade, they have collaborated as writers and actors – corralling a regular cast – on three subculture comedies. "A Mighty Wind" (2003), "Best in Show" (2000), and "Waiting for Guffman" (1996) took a largely unscripted, documentary approach to folk music, canine contests, and small-town community theater, respectively.
Now they have loosed their talents on Hollywood with "For Your Consideration," the story of a small indie film whose cast is giddy over highly improbable Oscar buzz. Its point of view nudges the film out of the documentary format and into narrative – a conscious decision, says director Guest. But viewers will see familiar fingerprints and faces.
The Monitor caught up with Guest and Levy in Boston for a mostly deadpan chat.
What are the implications of owning so distinctive a brand of satirical filmmaking?
Christopher Guest: I don't really think of myself as a satirist, I guess. I think of myself as a person who makes films that are really my observations about human behavior. And you could pick any area, any job, any slice of life, and have that same depth. I think that's what's fascinating. This movie obviously centers around something that we know well. But it could be about ... you know, anyone with ego issues. [A]fter "A Mighty Wind," which showed Eugene and Catherine [O'Hara] in very vulnerable states, really dangerously kind of balanced, delicate people, we wanted to keep going and not just do a series of sketches and funny things.