Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) wants desperately to make a movie, and as he approaches his 50th birthday he thinks he is running out of time. He tries to interest a studio executive in a script called “Chubby Rain,” written by an accountant, and is told the studio will make the movie IF Bowfinger can get Kit Ramsey, Hollywood’s biggest action star, to agree to appear in it. When Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) won’t even look at the script, Bowfinger decides to go ahead and make the movie around him, just filming him wherever he is without telling him anything about it.
Bowfinger takes his $2184 lifetime stash and gets started, with the help of a studio gofer who borrows the equipment (Jamie Kennedy), a very theatrical stage actress (Christine Baranski), and an ambitious ingenue literally just off the bus from Ohio (Heather Graham), who plans to become a star in one week. They set up the camera wherever Ramsey is going to be, and just stage the various scenes around him.
Ramsey, already high-strung and paranoid, finds his worst fears coming true as he is followed by strange people who say completely incomprehensible things to him about aliens and keep calling him “Keith.” He seeks help from Terry Stricter (Terrence Stamp), a counselor at Mind Head, a kooky therapy/religion whose members wear pyramid hats and recite affirmations. Meanwhile, Bowfinger needs a Ramsey look-alike for close- ups, and recruits the nerdy Jeff (also Eddie Murphy). And the ingenue sleeps with anyone and everyone who can help her get more time on screen.
The movie has some very funny moments but is oddly low-key, from its slow set-up of the premise to its lack of follow-through on some of the comic possibilities. Some of the humor may be too inside for those who do not follow Hollywood gossip. Watching Martin, Murphy, Baranski, and Graham — all in fine form here — is reason enough to see any movie, but in this case the script (written by Martin) is not as strong as it could have been.
Parents should know that the movie has a number of sexual references. The character played by Heather Graham has (offscreen) sex with just about every other character (male and female) purely to advance her career. While this is played for humor, without any suggestion that she is being exploited (quite the other way around), parents may want to talk to kids who see this movie about this behavior, as well as the choices Bowfinger himself makes by cheating, stealing, blackmailing, and lying to get his movie made. Some kids may have questions about “Mind Head”-style organizations. It might be fun to talk about what kind of movie could be made by filming family members as they go about their daily lives.