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Last Shot, The

 

Rating: R

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 10, 2005
Review posted: May 10, 2005

 

Reviewed by Doug Alpern

 

SYNOPSIS

 

In this farce of an FBI sting operation, a Hollywood movie project is greenlit for filming in New England by a federal agent posing as a producer. A director, talent, and crew are unwittingly enlisted by appealing to their grandiose dreams, in order to lure in a crime boss with trucking connections. The project moves forward in an effort to fry bigger racketeering fish.

 

CRITIQUE

 

Have you ever heard those stories about hapless crooks who should never have taken up the crime trade, like the guy who passed a bank teller a stick-up note written on the back of his pre-addressed withdrawal slip? This movie is just as comically unbelievable, and it's based on an actual event. Alec Baldwin does a nice comic turn as Joe Devine, a hack FBI agent who one day gets a bright idea on how to nab a minor crime boss (if this were animated, you'd see a lightbulb over his head). The mob man, Tony Sanz (the always great Tony Shalhoub) is in trucking, and Devine figures that he will pretend to produce a movie, and all the trucks involved in movie productions will lead the FBI through the union to Sanz. Devine travels to Hollywood posing as a producer, confers with an agent (an uncredited Joan Cusack doing a hilarious shtick), and sets off to find a script . As Cusack says,  “This is Hollywood. Just go outside and ask anyone you see to give you a script: a gardener, a cripple, a child molester. They’ve all got ‘em, you just have to find one.”

 

What ensues is pure movie making business farce. He greenlights a script titled “Arizona” from failed writer Steven Schatz (a bearded Mathew Broderick) who moonlights as a Chinese Theater ticket-taker, and then pegs Shatz to direct his own script. The catch? As Baldwin describes it, the dentist investors made a sweet deal with the state of Rhode Island, and they'll have to shoot Shatz's script “Arizona,” a desert tale of a young woman’s search for truth, in winter-locked Providence! Just a few script tweaks.

 

The film enlists cast and crew, including an audition by down-on-her-luck over-the-top vamp actress Emily French (Toni Collette).The scenes of Providence location scouting (especially the Hopi Indian cave/storage garage), the writer/director's adoring entourage, and the FBI project update meetings are quite funny. The backup cast includes Tim Blake Nelson as Shatz's cowboy kid brother and co-scriptwriter, Buck Henry as Shatz's agent, and Calista Flockhart as Shatz’s fed-up actress wannabe girlfriend.

 

Jeff Nathanson makes an admirable directorial debut with The Last Shot. He showed he can imbue his characters with empathy and believability, having penned the screenplay for The Terminal,  and in directing his own script he was able to maintain a nice, even comic tone throughout–not uproarious, but intelligent and subdued.

 

THE VIDEO

 

The Last Shot has been transferred to DVD in its widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio presented anamorphically. The movie has a slightly dark, muted coloring that helps you realize the small screen is a perfect place to catch this box office miss.

 

THE AUDIO

 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fine, if not noteworthy for this little movie. French, Spanish, and English subtitles are available.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

The audio commentary with director Jeff Nathanson and actor Matthew Broderick is somewhat funny. Broderick makes you realize that he has used slight variations of the same facial expression since he was Ferris Bueller, always to comic effect, and that the three films in which he was bearded have been box office failures.

 

This DVD includes an interesting Inspired By Actual Events featurette that brings together the original FBI producer, and the writer and director for the first time since the actual sting upon which this film is based.

 

The DVD also offers a few forgettable deleted scenes and an extended "Joan Cusack's Montage".

 

In Robert Evans Presents... Nathanson explains how he was originally going to have famous producers narrate the film, but decided it wasn’t practical after already having shot icon Robert Evans, so he included it on the DVD.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The Last Shot is funny offbeat comedy that is a stab at the whole process of movie making. Great rental entertainment, but one you probably won’t watch over and over.

 

VERDICT: RENT IT

 

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:: The DVD

 

:: DVD Ratings

 

THE MOVIE

7

THE VIDEO

5

THE AUDIO

5

THE EXTRAS

5

OVERALL

6

 

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