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The Big Picture VHS
Christopher Guest cowrote and directed this solid spoof about the pitfalls of believing your own hype. Kevin Bacon plays a high-minded would-be filmmaker whose student movie wins a prestigious national award and an invitation to Hollywood. Before he knows it, he is being wined and dined by agents, producers, and studio executives, who treat him like the new Orson Welles--until he starts making his first studio movie. Then he becomes bait for the piranha-like bottom-liners, who teach him the unfortunate lesson that the flavor of the week often gets eaten alive. Watch for Martin Short as a hilariously feckless agent and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a surprisingly chipper film student, given her black-rimmed eyes and all-black wardrobe. --Marshall Fine
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And Christopher Guest casts a jaded eye on the fickle ups and downs of Hollywood in "The Big Picture," a quirky, cynical movie which focuses on what the successful should never let go of. It has a few awkward stretches, but overall it's a darkly witty cult comedy ("You're tracking failure all over my carpet!").
Nick Chapman (Kevin Bacon) is the winner at an arty student movie competition, and instantly agents are chasing him all over L.A. In no time, he's the Rising Young Director, with a movie deal at a major movie corporation. But he's also starting to lose sight of his old life, as he tries to become a major success.
He changes the style, plot and characters of his arty movie for demographics, turning it into a beach bums/naked ghost movie. He dumps his pretty girlfriend (Emily Longstreth) for a bimbo actress (Teri Hatcher). When the studio head gets dropped, Nick falls as quickly as he rose. But a chance encounter with an old pal gives him a second chance -- an arty music video. This time, can he get it right?
Christopher Guest is best known for his brilliant mockumentaries, tackling everything from small-town musicals to folk festivals. His forthcoming one is another one about showbiz. But his talents are just as present in a "typical" movie, and Guest does a smart, quirky job of it.
The lesson: Be true to yourself and your art, don't fall for empty glitz, and don't let success go to your head if you're lucky enough to get it.
The story is a pretty straightforward one -- Nick gets great success, it goes to his head, he falls, and he rises again a wiser man. And the movie falls into straightforward lines, without many unpredictable plot twists. At first glance, it doesn't seem that unusual.
What makes it special? Well, simply put, Guest manages to infuse it with his unique type of wit, like the oddballish Pez music video and the noir fantasies of Nick's life. Not to mention the glorious dialogue. When speaking of Nick's one'n'only music video, a studio woman announces, "It's the best one yet, and I've seen 'em ALL!"
And Guest manages to show us agents, artists, students, directors and actors, but never descended to cliches. They're real people, no matter how nasty. And Bacon does a solid job as a young man who learns how empty glitz is. His best scene is the reunion with his friend Emmet, where he confesses, "I wanna be your friend again." And he's backed by good performances by Longstreth, Michael McKean and a dancing Jennifer Jason Leigh.
"Big Picture" treads where many movies have gone before, but it does so with an approach as fresh as a Pez People music video. A must-see.
This is a silly, quirky movie and not ever going to be on anyone's top 100 list, but a fun rental if you want to kill a couple of hours.
I love the director, I dig this cast, and I even get what they're going for but somehow the movie just did not work for me at all.
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