Charlie Day Misses the Mark In This Satirical Hollywood Comedy
Charlie Day’s directorial debut provides a lot of talent but no sustenance. Roadside Attractions’ Fool’s Paradise is a satirical comedy that pokes fun at the hubris of Hollywood but with a Charlie Chaplin twist. Day stars as a mute man who becomes released from a mental health facility and finds himself alone, broke and confused of the outside world. He quickly gets discovered by a Hollywood producer (Ray Liotta), who uses him to replace an erratic method actor that looks identical to him. Once on set, the man quickly catches the eye of low-level publicist Lenny (Ken Jeong), who irreverently gives him the stage name Latte Pronto. The film follows the two men and their absurd journey through fame, fortune, and failure with a quirky cast of characters that highlight the idiocy and vanities of Hollywood.
A Hollywood Satire That Doesn’t Stick
One of the many problems with Fool’s Paradise is the film’s failure to tell a cohesive story. The film tries to instill the comedy essence of classic Buster Keaton films like 1926’s The General or 1928’s The Cameraman. Instead, the film flops, reducing its comedy to a low-level lampoon made directly for streaming. Day — who also serves as writer — has difficulty keeping the film’s flow intact, making the story feel like a series of random events without grounding. From the moment audiences are introduced to Pronto (Day), his character is immediately thrust into the ludicrous world of Hollywood’s high society. He goes from a body double to the film’s star to the world’s hottest celebrity in a matter of days. Though this sounds funny on paper, Day’s execution feels like the story is happening in a single take, with each scene stretching out onto the next.
At the heart of this story is the relationship between Pronto and Lenny. At first, Lenny uses Pronto to make a name for himself in Hollywood. The failing publicist does everything he can to ensure Pronto remains a star — even if it means following him around night and day. But when Pronto’s star rises, Lenny sees himself being left behind, realizing he’s lost the only person that matters to him. This realization leaves little-to-no emotion as Day struggles to develop a deep connection with his leading characters. While the film does have a few funny moments, its constant aim to poke fun at Hollywood gets tiresome and, at times, cringey.
A Star-Studded Supporting Cast
Evidently, the film’s saving grace is the use of its supporting cast. With a who’s who of celebrity cameos from Hollywood A-listers to fellow It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia alums, the film is chock-full of talent. A posthumous Ray Liotta shines as the film’s producer — a straight man to the film’s cast of knit-wits. His temperament and frustration with everyone on set are some of the film’s greatest highlights. Adrian Brody and Kate Beckinsale star as Pronto’s on-screen castmates — Chad Luxt and Christiana Dior. The two celebrities entangle themselves with Pronto as his fame continues to rise. Luxt (Brody) gets Pronto constantly wrapped up in Hollywood scandals, while Dior (Beckinsale) falls in love with the silent oaf, leading to the two marrying and adopting children.
Edie Falco plays Pronto’s fast-talking, straightforward agent who propels him into stardom. Falco’s flamboyantly dressed character embodies the cutthroat nature of talent agents by pushing Pronto through the Hollywood factory. Because of this, Pronto becomes pressured into starring in renowned filmmaker Lex Tanner’s (Jason Sudeikis) new superhero film. Tanner embodies all the qualities of eccentric filmmakers today with his unorthodox methods and loose demeanor. Topping off the cast are appearances from Jason Bateman, John Malkovich, Glenn Howerton, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Jimmi Simpson, and Artemis Pebdani.
A Film All Over the Place
It’s been a long five-year journey for Charlie Day’s first feature directorial. Initially titled El Tonto, the film faced many setbacks, including a pandemic, reshoots, and the addition of 27 pages to the script. Day also expressed concerns about the project and his difficulties transitioning from television to film. This is where the film has trouble, as Day treats Fool’s Paradise as a collection of gags rather than a cohesive story. It’s full of run-on jokes that take forever to deliver and steal from the story, creating a jarring experience. The editing makes the film’s pacing feel like it was stitched together, with transitions abruptly cutting from scene to scene. With so much happening throughout the film, one can easily forget where the story is going.
The one consistency throughout Fool’s Paradise is the film’s score, beautifully composed by Jon Brion — known for 2004’s Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind and 1999’s Magnolia. Brion’s classical score does a better job highlighting the film’s story than its script does, making one wonder if the film would have been better as a silent film.
Wait For Streaming
Not every first project is a hit, and that’s okay. Though Fool’s Paradise has everything a summer comedy needs to be a hit, its lack of direction makes the film mundane and confusing. Day’s work behind the camera illustrates the difficulties many actors-turned-directors have when transitioning roles. As a writer, Day has proven he’s got the comedic wit to tell funny stories and the acting chops to back it up. With his journey in directing just beginning, Day has plenty of time to hone his skills and grow as a filmmaker. Until then, Fool’s Paradise is a film best to wait for when it becomes available on demand or to stream.
Fool’s Paradise (2023). Official Roadside Attractions Trailer.
You Might Also Be Interested In:
Source: Dead Talk Live
Phone: +1 (646) 397-2874
Dead Talk Live is simultaneously streamed to: YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, Vimeo, and LinkedIn
Shop official Dead Talk Live Merchandise at our Online Store
|Matt Keyser is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton University with a bachelor's in Communications-Journalism. He is a freelance entertainment reporter with a focus on film and television. As a former senior programming coordinator for the Newport Beach Film Festival, Matt's experience with critiquing narratives and documentaries has helped showcase his passion for television and cinema through his writing.|