Plot: Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) has just discovered a hot script, “Chubby Rain,” which he feels will be the next sci/fi blockbuster. But what he needs for a “go” picture is nothing less than the hottest star in the business, action star Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy). Ramsey is sickened by the script, and not only refuses to do the movie, but throws Bowfinger out of his limo. But Bowfinger has a plan, he cooks up a scam bigger than anything he’s tried before. He is going to secretly film Ramsey, while the actors do their parts, and make the movie. But Ramsey is having issues, such as alien paranoia and the urge to show his manhood to the Laker girls. The production for Chubby Rain continues and Bowfinger hires his friends for the most part, as well as fresh over the border Mexicans for the crew, and a loose starlet wannabe (Heather Graham). When Kit can’t “keep it together” due to the strange encounters he has the actors, he checks into Mindhead, a mental therapy place for a few days and the shoot grinds to a halt. Will Bowfinger be able to work more of his magic and make his movie, or is losing his unwitting star the fatal blow?
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one, a quirky look at the movie business and the lengths some will go to in order to see their visions realized. The premise is great, as a low rent filmmaker tries to make a movie using a mega star, but one who has no idea he’s in the picture. The concept of putting someone in a movie without them knowing it may seem hard to pull off, but trust me, this movie does it well. A lot of little touches are used that film fans will appreciate, as Bowfinger uses unorthodox methods to get his movie made on the cheap. The movie has a broad, often ridiculous sense of humor, with colorful characters, over the top moments, and a wild premise, so the laughs are here, but the movie is also smarter than it seems. The jokes are not just sight gags or tired verbal jokes, they are well written pieces that are not just original, they’re like a breath of fresh comedic air. The movie’s bright spots are likely to appeal more to film buffs, but even casual viewers should have fun here.
Steve Martin is one of my favorite comedic actors, with a resume stacked with comedy classics and hilarious performances. In Bowfinger, he brings a blend of his older style of comedy and some fresh touches, which makes for a terrific effort. I don’t know if I would rank this with his best work, but it is a fun performance and Martin proves the chops are still there. Eddie Murphy is also fun, both as the paranoid and bizarre Kit and his brother, the oddball Jiff. He brings a lot more to these roles than his usual multi-character works, with distinct personas and no prosthetic devices, which lets his comic ability be foremost. Heather Graham is on hand and performs well as the vapid starlet, Christine Baranski is a veteran actress of great class, and Terence Stamp is around as the eerie leader of a cult to the stars. The cast also includes Robert Downey, Jr., Jamie Kennedy, and Barry Newman in smaller roles. I think Bowfinger is a lot of fun, with an attention to detail that movie buffs will appreciate, but again, you don’t need to be a film expert to appreciate the humor here.