The Good: Funny, Good Acting, Well Written
The Bad: Predictable Plot, Simple Characters
The Basics: Funny and well written and acted save this otherwise poorly plotted and blandly charactered film. Everyone is an archetype from the dreamer on down.
The problem with Bowfinger is the box ruins the film. In fact, I'd bet just about every review you've read of Bowfinger ruins it for you. Why? Both the box and the reviews make a connection that works better as an unknown. That is, the film works better without the hype; without knowing Eddie Murphy's characters' relationships, seeing the film becomes vastly more pleasurable.
So, I'm not going to talk about that aspect of the film and I'm going to encourage you, if you like this review, to see the film rather than reading any other reviews of Bowfinger.
Bowfinger is an idealist. He says he's a moviemaker, but he's yet to make a film. He is surrounded by people who believe in him, a writer/accountant, an actress named Carol and guy who washes cars for a movie studio. Together, this quartet is determined to make a movie. To this end, Bowfinger bluffs a movie executive who wants a film with the biggest star in Hollywood. That is Kit Ramsey and the exec is charmed by Bowfinger's film so long as Ramsey appears in it.
Bowfinger attempts to bluff Ramsey and fails. Unable to accept defeat, Bowfinger claims he has Ramsey's consent and the team begins to shoot the film, including scenes with Ramsey, only he doesn't know he's in the picture.
What works well is that the film Bowfinger is shooting is a science fiction piece and as Bowfinger notes, the script mostly calls for him to run and look scared. The film works best when it's combining the alien-paranoid Ramsey with Bowfinger's film. Outside the cult-influenced character of Kit Ramsey, the film would fail. But it works because the script is well-written and it combines the credible aspects of Hollywood with the incredible aspects that seem to only exist in a Hollywood film.
The acting is excellent. It's Steve Martin's film and he dominates as the quirky loser Bowfinger. Eddie Murphy works well as Kit, but even better as Jiff, a geeky man who Bowfinger enlists because he bares some resemblance to Kit. The sense of paranoia that pervades Kit is played out with realism and humor. Christine Baranski, who plays Carol, is funny and enhances the acting of the film. She's funny and she plays her character as straightlaced as is appropriate. She works perfectly in this film.
What works less well is the predictable plot. Bowfinger's idealism drives the movie, so being a comedy, we have a fairly good idea where the film will go and how it will get there. That the characters aren't especially multifaceted - including Bowfinger - is also a severe drawback.
The truth is, this is a comedy and it's hard to do a comedy that's completely different and original. So much humor has been done. This film balances original lines and the occasional new humorous twist with what's been done and done to death in comedies about Hollywood. Bowfinger is good enough to be viewed multiple times and still be funny.
For other comedies, please check out my reviews of:
30 Rock Season 2
Did You Hear About The Morgans?
For other movie reviews, please check out my index page!
© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.