The Big Picture | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Big Picture

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Christopher Guest's hilariously accurate and canny satire about contemporary filmmaking in Hollywood was one of David Puttnam's last projects at Columbia, made with the support of Steve Martin's production company. Needless to say, it's getting dumped rather quickly, so this will probably be the last week you'll be able to see it. If you want to have a better idea of how dopey decisions get made in the film industry, you should rush off to it without delay. Admittedly, the movie turns mushy and conventional whenever it tries to become serious (which fortunately isn't too often), and ends with a querulous cop-out, but otherwise it's pretty clear sailing, and few movies this year have made me laugh quite as much. A prizewinning graduate (Kevin Bacon) of the National Film Institute (read: American Film Institute) gets courted by the studios, and winds up getting a chance to direct a big Hollywood movie, but the bright ideas of the studio head (J.T. Walsh)--whose office, incidentally, is said to be modeled directly after Spielberg's--quickly make hash of his script, and other complications, personal as well as professional, follow. Director Guest collaborated on the screenplay with Michael Varhol and Michael McKean; Emily Longstreth, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Martin Short (at his absolute best as the hero's agent), and McKean costar, and Roddy McDowall and Elliott Gould, among others, offer cameos. (Broadway)

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