The Set of 400: #215 – My Favorite Dog in High-Heels

Today! Because when the aliens come down to earth, they come inside raindrops, making the rain chubby. Chubby Rain!

Bowfinger (1999)

Directed by Frank Oz

Starring Steve Martin (x5), Eddie Murphy (x2), Heather Graham (x2), Christine Baranski, Jamie Kennedy, Terence Stamp (x3), Robert Downey Jr. (x8), Adam Alexi-Malle, John Prosky, John Cho (x2), Kohl Sudduth

The halcyon days of my second year of college and it’s a movie about movies? Oh man, was there any way Bowfinger wasn’t making this list? I’m not sure how well remembered or regarded this movie is now – it doesn’t seem to be on the tip of anyone’s tongue – but I’ve always been a huge fan of this wacky guerrilla filmmaking adventure. Martin plays the low rent producer/director Bobby Bowfinger, trying to scrape together a minuscule budget science fiction movie without the knowledge of the movie’s purported star, Murphy’s Kit Ramsey. They assault him with actors (who are unaware he doesn’t know they’re in a movie) and perilous scenarios, preying on his temporary psychological problems – exacerbated in no small part due to his affiliation with the Scientology-esque Mindhead. To help with this deception, Bowfinger enlists Ramsey lookalike/gopher/nerd Jiff – also Murphy – for help with doubling, especially in the more terrifying scenes, such as his bold dash across a busy Los Angeles highway.

“Heavenly God! Heavenly God! Heavenly God!”

Martin’s screenplay works as more of a direct comedy than some savage satire on the movie business. Sure, there are jabs at the way studios do things and egomaniac stars, but the outlandishness of the scenario hardly reflects standard movie making practices. The original idea, however, did come from an allegedly real incident – in the ’20s a gutsy filmmaker in Russia shot Mary Pickford into his film without her knowledge (I’ve looked high and low, but can’t find out if this is actually true – Pickford and husband Douglas Fairbanks did cameo in a Russian movie in the ’20s, but were full participants in the film). So maybe Martin was on to something! Maybe this gets done more than we know! It might explain away some lazy career choices! I’m not naming names!

Outside of Martin, and one of the best uses of Murphy in multiple roles, the movie features a bunch of great supporting turns – Heather Graham’s ladder climbing starlet, Baranski’s craft-obsessed acting lifer, Stamp’s religious guru, and Downey’s movie exec. But the movie’s MVP goes to the great Adam Alexi-Malle as the accountant turned Chubby Rain screenwriter Afrim, who also manages some quick cameos in the film itself –

There’s these aliens, you see

While getting some decent reviews and landing as the 35th highest grossing movie of 1999, Bowfinger garnered bupkis by way of awards. Completely unfair! I think it at least deserves a mention for Best Clip-On Ponytail, sported by Bowfinger in the early part of the film!

Murphy (#340 The Nutty Professor), Graham (#368 Anger Management), and a young John Cho (#231 American Pie) all enter the Two-Timers guild today, while Zod himself Terence Stamp advances to the Threes, following #332 The Phantom Menace and #305 Superman. Steve Martin becomes only the eighth member of the Five-Timers thus far, after #266 The Jerk, #373 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, #302 Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, and #253 My Blue Heaven, while the great RDJ extends his overall lead by becoming the first Eight-Timer (!), Bowfinger joining #397 Wonder Boys, #259 Soapdish, #265 Iron Man 3, #242 Chaplin, #224 The Avengers, #383 Sherlock Holmes, and #278 Zodiac. Spotlight!

He’s only really got the one scene, but it’s solid

Coming tomorrow! Eight words back in ’72. “I covered up. I was wrong. I’m sorry.” The American public would have forgiven him –

1 Comment

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One response to “The Set of 400: #215 – My Favorite Dog in High-Heels

  1. Pingback: The Set of 400: #216 – My Favorite Projectile Vomiting | Knowingly Undersold

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