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1999 - PG-13 - 97 Mins.
Director: Frank Oz
Producer: Brian Grazer
Written By: Steve Martin
Starring: Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Robert Downey, Jr., Christine Baranski
Review by: John Ulmer
“Bowfinger” starts out with Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin), an unsuccessful movie director who has oddly enough, at his ripe old age of forty-five, never directed a movie. Every week he puts a dollar away into a little tin to save up for his first movie. Well, now he has bills up to here and debts to pay, and some promising actors to satisfy with a script. And he’s got the perfect script to make it all come true: “Chubby Rain.” It is about aliens coming down from space in raindrops, hence the name “Chubby Rain.” And Bobby Bowfinger has the perfect man for the film. He can already see the tagline (well, I can, at least): “And there is only one man who can stop them. Only one man who is an instant moneymaker, audience-attractor and action-hero. Kit Ramsey.”

Eddie Murphy plays Kit Ramsey, a successful billion-a-film movie star who has been having some paranoid delusions recently. He goes to a therapist whenever he sees these visions, and the therapist calms him. But he has no idea what he is in store for.

After Bowfinger tries to contact Kit in an effort to attract him to the “Chubby Rain” script (to no avail, obviously), Bowfinger hatches a ludicrous plan. A plan that might just work. Who says actors need to know that they are in a movie? What if they were just…filmed, staged? What if you sent an actress up to an actor on the street, told the actress what to say, and filmed it. It could come across that the actor she is talking to is part of the movie. And that is exactly what Bobby Bowfinger does. He films Kit without Kit knowing he is filming him (it all sounds so confusing, but it really isn’t).

But after Bowfinger’s actors go up to Kit and speak to him on the street, Kit thinks that the actors are aliens, and his therapist puts him in a secret mental hospital (rehab?) unit.

Bobby Bowfinger is left without an actor.

So now, the game is on, as Bobby must find a Kit look-a-like. Fortunately for Bobby, he has just found Kit Ramsey’s dorky, nerdy twin Jiff: a braces-boasting, gum-chewing, thick-rimmed glasses wearing, loveable freak.

But there are more surprises just around the corner for Bobby, as Kit is released from the mental rehab unit and is chased by Bowfinger’s actors again, leading to the film’s climax. (“Got you, suckas!”)

Well, now I will evaluate the cast, because the cast of “Bowfinger” is very ensemble.

Steve Martin is great in his role as Bowfiner, a hassled director who must resort to an all-time low of filming. But what is great are Martin’s dumb-grin expressions throughout the film that make him look like a little child.

I have now seen two Eddie Murphy films in two nights: “Bowfinger” and “I Spy,” his performance in both surprising me. In “I Spy” he fit Kelly Robinson like a glove, using his loudmouth antics to full advantage, for once. In “Bowfinger,” Murphy uses his talent to his full advantage as well, convincingly pulling off an egotistical actor and nerdy geek.

Heather Graham plays an actress wannabe who sleeps with every man on set of the movie to get her way(s).

Robert Downey, Jr. has a small role as a film producer; he is in the film in the very beginning, about five seconds in the middle, and at the very end. I’d estimate his screen presence at about four minutes total.

Jamie Kennedy plays Bobby Bowfinger’s assistant and friend; he works in a back-lot film studio. To help film the “Chubby Rain” movie, Kennedy’s character “borrows” film equipment from the film studio and returns it to them before night. Kennedy was very good in this movie, as he is in his television show “JKX” (The Jamie Kennedy Experiment).

Now, on to the interesting aspects of the film:

“Bowfinger” has some very interesting and hilarious sequences, including one segment where Bowfinger is having Kit run across a traffic-packed highway during rush hour for the movie he is filming. Hands down the best scene in the film.

The movie also has some interesting “con” ideas, which are very provocative and thought provoking. For instance, Bowfinger sets a camera in a large tree-clipper truck, sets Kennedy up there, drives on a highway and films Kit Ramsey in his car, who is being chased by one of Bowfinger’s actors. Who would ever think of that? Only Steve Martin, the writer of this film.

The thing that makes this movie so funny is the fact that Kit Ramsey has no clue whatsoever about what is going on. One of Bowfinger’s actors (the guy who wrote the “Chubby Rain” script) walks up to Kit and, using a special prank, cuts off his own arm (of course it’s a fake arm, but Kit thinks it is real and runs away).

Unfortunately, believe it or not, I was overall a bit disappointed in the movie. Yes, it is a clever parody of the film industry, and it was not a bad film at all. It was quite funny. But frankly, I was expecting more laughs after reading so many good reviews and finding out Martin wrote the script.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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