Directed by: Charlie Day
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions
Written by Nick McCann
It delights me to see a filmmaker’s influences on clear display in their work. Especially when it’s an actor making the transition to the other side of the camera. Case in point Charlie Day, one of the more revered comedians of today. His vision: a modern day slapstick comedy about the wonders of show business. A man of his talents in a retro concept like that could only be tons of fun. And it is, even if it doesn’t have a lot more to offer.
Not dissimilar from icons like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Day’s mute main character is thrust into the topsy-turvy world of Hollywood’s divas and eccentrics. It certainly works to structure jokes and highlight absurdity. The plain hard fact though is this kind of material has been done better in other satires. Whatever the movie has to say about the current state of the industry never quite goes past the surface. Also, the gimmick and propulsion do noticeably die down toward the end. Whether that’ll affect your sense of humor or not is subjective like any comedy. I laughed plenty at all the familiarity and was able to put up with the momentum shift.
Ridiculous doesn’t begin to describe how stacked the cast is! Seems like almost anyone Day had a connection to he got for this movie and they are having some kind of fun. Adrian Brody, Edie Falco, Kate Beckinsale, Jason Sudeikis, and the late great Ray Liotta got big laughs from me. Ken Jeong however almost became too much at points. Even Day takes on a dual role, one full-voiced and the other all expressions. Quite ambitious considering his distinct voice, but he does great mute, more times than not.
A seasoned comedian like Day at the very least has a beat on structuring humor. Although the story’s undercurrent is hardly new, jokes still come through on the regular. The physical humor has that touch of silent movie whimsy, where situations have a strange way of equally falling apart and into place. That’s on top of some occasional quips and one-liners. Some scenes I think even demonstrate Day’s directing abilities, just how the camera is placed and shots are framed up. There is a degree of understanding of old-school film language. Even the music opts for classic sounding score cues over what’s topping the charts.
“Fool’s Paradise” has plenty of charming intent behind its old school purity. The surface level of that approach is amusing with an energetic cast and jokes hitting good often enough. Just don’t expect to come away thinking any deeper after the fact because a lot of it is old hat. Nevertheless, a hat that is adequately worn.
“Fool’s Paradise” Trailer