So here we have Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin), a director whose career has seen far better days. In the opening scene he is finishing a read of a script he just KNOWS will make him a star. Before too long, Bowfinger’s pitching the movie to the industry’s #1 action star, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy). Ramsey, of course, isn’t too inclined to take on the project, and seems a little unbalanced himself. Seems he’s seeing a therapist on the side who has been advising him to “keep it together” (Keep It Together = KIT – get it?).

So since Kit won’t do the project, and Bowfinger’s already told his cast and crew he WILL do it, what’s a forlorn director to do? That’s right, shoot the movie without Kit knowing it! There are six scenes with Kit’s character, so Bowfinger shoots all the others as normal, then has to use a little trickery to finish the others. At first he shoots them actually WITH Kit, although of course Kit has no idea he’s being filmed; for closeup scenes, he auditions lookalikes for the part. The winner is a decidedly unstylish, non-suave dork named Jif (also played by Murphy, who’s experienced at playing multiple roles).

Of course, the resolution of this movie isn’t tough to figure out – will Bowfinger get his movie in the can, with or without Kit knowing – but it’s the getting to that resolution that’s the real fun. Martin’s a real treat as the over-the-top, get-this-movie-done-at-all-costs Bowfinger, and it’s a role he absolutely plays to the hilt. And I doubt this movie would have been a big deal at all if Murphy wasn’t cast in it. I’ve always enjoyed him when he does multiple roles, which he’s done in several of his films, but the spins he put on both Kit and Jif were tremendous! I sincerely doubt any other actor could have pulled off the feat as well as Murphy did, and who knows – maybe it’ll resuscitate his career.

The script is crisp, and there are hardly any slackers in the entire cast. One of the best is the lovely Heather Graham, who has shown her acting chops (among other things) to us in “Boogie Nights,” “Lost in Space,” and “Swingers,” to name a few. Graham plays Daisy, a just-off-the-bus-from-Ohio naif who sleeps her way from the cameraman to the screenwriter to the director to make sure her scenes are in the film. Frank Oz is the director, but I don’t think he had a lot to do with the overall success of the film. He’s directed a few Steve Martin films before (“Housesitter” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”), and my instinct tells me that he kind of stepped back and let Martin and Murphy do their thing.

Bowfinger: ***1/2


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