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Movie Review

Bobby Bowfinger is a wannabe film director/producer. Desperate for a movie that will make him a "player" in Hollywood's exclusive fraternity of big-shot power brokers, Bowfinger resorts to an elaborate con. After embracing "Chubby Rain"—a cheesy science fiction script about invaders from outer space inhabiting raindrops—and hiring a motley crew of low-rent actors and film editors, Bowfinger fails to sign Kit Ramsey, the international action star required to sell the project. So he resorts to deception. He lies to his staff and trains his cameras on Ramsey's candid daily activities, manipulating out of the actor a performance Kit doesn't even realize he's giving. Along the way, this comedy tweaks (in some cases gang tackles) Hollywood conventions, practices and obsessions. It's a stinging satire written by Steve Martin and directed by Frank Oz, both of whom understand Hollywood's many absurdities and do a good job generating humor at their industry's expense.

Positive Elements: A momentary bout of conscience makes Bowfinger question his ethics, but it's fleeting. His crew's teamwork, loyalty and enthusiasm for their common goal is admirable.

Spiritual Content: The film skewers Scientology by making Kit a devotee of Mindhead, a silly series of metaphysical exercises and mantras that cause some followers to wear pyramids on their heads. In one scene, a mesmerized crowd sits in an auditorium listening to "A Fifth of Beethoven" when one visitor observes their trance-like state and says, "They're all aliens worshipping their false gods." Jiff appears to sincerely call on the name of God in a scary situation (sadly, he's portrayed as an idiotic nerd who can't resist Daisy's professionally driven nymphomania).

Crude or Profane Language: One obscenity (a single use of the f-word), numerous profanities and a few exclamatory uses of God's name.

Sexual Content: Daisy, an aspiring actress fresh off the bus from Ohio, has sex with just about every guy on the film crew in the interest of career advancement. Most of her encounters (including a lesbian relationship) are merely referred to in passing, but one scene shows her getting passionate with Bowfinger. He puts his hand on her chest and offers a fairly vivid description of the act about to take place. Kit has a compulsive desire to expose himself to Los Angeles Lakers cheerleaders, which he eventually does. "Chubby Rain" is rewritten to include a scene in which Daisy bares her breasts to an awestricken Jiff. There are also several references to male anatomy and an allusion to homosexuality.

Violent Content: No actual violence, but the filming of "Chubby Rain" involves several scenes of staged violence that Kit doesn't know aren't real, inspiring genuine fear from the paranoid star: A knife-wielding woman stalks him. A man is "shot" at close range, causing fake blood to gush from his chest. A woman's head (clearly a prop) is severed and hoisted in the air. Presumably a host for a hideous alien life form, an actor oozes slime from his pores and has an arm drop off. Real gunshots pierce the air as Bowfinger herds a group of Mexicans into a van for an illegal trip across the border. Simply to make a point with his agent, Kit discharges a handgun in his living room. Jiff and Bowfinger shoot a scene for a Ninja movie involving swordplay and hand-to-hand combat.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Bowfinger serves cheap, watered-down wine to Daisy. At a party, alcohol flows freely.

Other Negative Elements: Lacking a moral compass, Bowfinger lies, steals, smuggles in illegal aliens, borrows things without permission, destroys property, trespasses, commits credit card fraud and resorts to blackmail in order to get his movie made. Kit flies off the handle, making ridiculous accusations of racial discrimination and threatening those who stand in his way. He's also arrogant, materialistic and paranoid that aliens are messing with his mind.

Summary: Bowfinger is at its best when it roasts the Hollywood system and the ethically challenged breed that tends to feed there. This first big-screen pairing of Martin and Murphy yields some very funny moments. However, frequent profanity and a disgusting disrespect for sex—satirical or not—make it hard to enjoy the pointed, much-deserved barbs aimed at the cell phone and cob salad crowd. Besides which, there aren't many noble people to root for here. It's like watching an episode of Seinfeld. The "Chubby Rain" crew pulls together to get the job done, but each character seems motivated by a selfish agenda that only the group's success will satisfy. And by concluding the film with everyone dew-eyed over the positive reception their schlocky B-movie receives from the public, the ends seem to justify their immoral means. Yes, situational ethics do work in Tinseltown. But while that may be their reality, it doesn't need to be exported to the rest of us.

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