HERE IT IS: the comedy you've been waiting for all summer. Something you can laugh at, which doesn't involve questionable acts with pies or even more questionable acts between Saddam and Satan.
"Bowfinger," which brings Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy together for the first time is -- cue the all important word -- funny. I still chuckle every time I picture Murphy's billboard-sized smile beaming from east to west in the pictured scene at right. And I think the movie will amuse virtually everyone, even poorly postured, put-upon parents with college degrees and mortgages. The reasons? Martin's inventive story and hilarious situations, and a great dual performance from Murphy.
Martin plays Bobby Bowfinger, a down-and-out film producer who'll stop at nothing to make the big time.
His latest gambit: to snag Kit Ramsey (Murphy), a popular action-movie star with great marquee value, for his next movie.
But how does a no-hit producer persuade Hollywood's hottest star to read "Chubby Rain," a poorly written B-movie script about aliens landing on earth?
The answer is, he doesn't. Predictably, Bobby's efforts to get Kit fall flat. But the producer -- who seems to be a combination of Roger Corman and Ed Wood -- decides to go ahead with the movie anyway.
Keeping tabs on Kit's schedule, Bobby intends to follow the actor around with a guerrilla camera crew and supporting actors (including Christine Baranski as Bobby's B-movie diva, and Heather Graham as a floozy starlet) at the ready.
At Bobby's instruction, the actors will approach the unsuspecting Kit and act out their parts, while the camera films everything from a hidden vantage point. Kit's spooked, genuine reactions will work perfectly, and Bobby will have his movie.
In a double deception, Bobby tells the crew and cast that Kit has agreed to make the movie, but wishes to remain in character. This means Kit does not want to acknowledge the actors, schmooze with anyone or even see the cameras.
It bears mentioning that Kit is already a highly suggestible nut case with paranoid fantasies. He believes that white racists in Hollywood are out to get him and mysterious people are following him.
So when Bobby's actors approach him -- whether chasing him by car or just yelling at him -- it confirms everything. Kit's idea of counseling is to go to a spiritual organization called Mind Head, whose satirical similarities to a certain religious organization made famous by Tom Cruise and John Travolta seem less than coincidental.
The less revealed about Murphy's other performance, the better for your pleasure. Let's just say that Bobby needs a screen double to fill in for the stuff he can't get Kit to do. And let's just say Murphy is even funnier as Jiff, a man with a mouthful of braces who describes himself as "an active renter at Blockbuster."
The plot reminded me of the bright, goofy French capers of the 1970s, the ones like "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe" or "La Chevre," in which misunderstandings and buffoons abound, and the plot line takes a crazy, but often inspired course.
"Bowfinger" keeps you as interested in the story as its one-liners and gags. But what great passing humor! Says Bobby's cameraman about the equipment he "borrows" for every day: "I gotta have it back every night or it's a felony." And if there's one gag to remember this movie by, it would have to be the scene in which the sweet, gullible and extremely terrified Jiff attempts to run across a multilane freeway full of speeding cars, just so Bobby can have a shot of him braving death to cross the road. The fear on Jiff's face alone is enough to justify the price of your movie ticket.
BOWFINGER (PG-13, 97 minutes) -- Contains sexual situations and really bad advice about jaywalking. Area theaters.