Bowfinger and the JIFF GETS THE JOB Moment
The One-Line Summary: Super low-budget and down on his luck film maker Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) has everything he needs to make his next film, except the big budget action star, but gets the go ahead from studio executive, Jerry Renfro (Robert Downey Jr.) for distribution if Bowfinger can sign top box office star Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy), so Bowfinger, unable to afford him, decides to film him from the street without his knowledge anyway.
The Two-Line Blurb: Written by and starring Martin, this underrated comedy, directed by Frank Oz is a sharp, often laugh-out-loud story that is surprisingly fresh, with some standout performances by Martin and Heather Graham. But it’s Eddie Murphy who steals the show as once again he stars as more than one character, with his Jefferson ‘Jiff’ Ramsey, an endearingly oblivious man befuddled by his chance to be a star that earns big laughs throughout.
The Three-Line Set-up: Bowfinger is ready to go with his 2 thousand dollar budget (life savings) and a film crew of illegal Mexican’s. One of the more important aspects of his approach is finding an actor who looks enough like Kit Ramsey from behind or from a distance. The from behind thing is extra important as 8 of the last 10 Ramsey films showed his naked rear and those 8 of the 10 last films were box office moneymakers. The audition process doesn’t really go well until a frumpy, nervous fellow with lots of movie experience (renting DVDs) gives it a shot.
The Four-Line Moment: During his audition, Jiff really has no idea what he’s getting into, and all Bowfinger is interested in is if he can pass for Ramsey (and if he can run some errands during production). Murphy creates such an original character, it’s actually hard to even “see” Murphy in him while he’s performing, which is more amazing when you consider he’s only wearing glasses and braces for props, far, far less than the mounds of prosthetics and make-up in other films he made at the time. Murphy could have just gone for geeky laughs and made Jiff a joke, but right from the start there is a sweetness to the character that is as recognizable as the humor. It’s some of his best work ever.
The Five-Word Review: Martin always makes great movies.
Clip courtesy Mark Kovar