Movie Name: Bowfinger
Studio: Imagine Entertainment
Release Date(s): August 13, 1999
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is in desperate need of a hit. When he gets the script for Chubby Rain, he knows he has a blockbuster on his hands…if he can get the superstar Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) to star. Bowfinger assembles a crew and formulates a plan. Bowfinger will make Chubby Rain with Kit Ramsey…even if Ramsey doesn’t know it.
Directed by Frank Oz and written by Steve Martin, Bowfinger is a Hollywood parody. The movie was released to positive reviews and a modest success in the box office (being released the week after the sleeper smash hit The Sixth Sense).
I saw Bowfinger in the theater and really enjoyed it. From the performances to the clever story, I thought it was a fun movie…and the movie has held up over time.
The story was often compared to The Producers in its themes and a “so-bad-its-good” movie within a movie. The basic ideas and plans of Bowfinger makes you wish you could see a completely edited version of Chubby Rain and see how the film turned out…in today’s world of DVD and extras, they might have actually put one together.
The best part of Bowfinger however is the skewering of Hollywood and of Eddie Murphy himself. Murphy (like Kit) has a brother who looks a lot like him (Charlie Murphy) and has had struggles with being a superstar. The Kit Ramsey is essentially Eddie in the ’80s and it is good that he has a sense of humor about it. Likewise, the fame aggressive Daisy (Heather Graham) is largely considered to be Anne Heche who dated Martin briefly (the ending indicates her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres). Another big subject of the film is Hollywood’s obsession with Scientology with Kit being a member of MindHead which is a knock against the religion that isn’t even cleverly masked by the movie.
The cast also really excels in the comedy. Both Martin and Murphy are great and it was a good reminder that Murphy still had some good jokes in him when it was made (especially in his dual role as Jiff). Christine Baranski is a scene stealer as the overacting Carol and Jamie Kennedy is the only other one of Bowfinger’s crew that is in on the secret. The movie features appearances by Terence Stamp, Robert Downey, Jr., and an early appearance by John Cho.
The movie also looks pretty good. Part of the joke is the concepts that Bowfinger uses to shoot the movie. Some of them are interesting practical effects and others you just can’t imagine working (but it is fun to see the filmmakers try). Now, I could see this somehow being a subject for a reality TV show, but in 1999, guerrilla filmmaking was not as prevalent.
With the “sequel” taking place right before the credits and the whole cast of Chubby Rain being recruited to make another film overseas, you have the fun of believing that Bowfinger and his crew has continued to make films to this day. Bowfinger is an underrated and under-seen fun movie. If you’ve never seen it, give it a chance…it is worth it…this script is butter!