'Fool's Paradise' Is as Superficial as the Industry It Tries to Parody

Directed by Charlie Day

Starring Charlie Day, Ken Jeong, Kate Beckinsale, Adrien Brody, Jason Sudeikis, Edie Falco, Jason Bateman, Common, Jillian Bell, Dean Morris, Jimmi Simpson, Ray Liotta, John Malkovich

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

BY Rachel HoPublished May 12, 2023

Charlie Day has always come across as a reluctant Hollywood star. Listen to (or creep) an episode of the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia podcast and it becomes apparent that he and his co-stars, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney, have a relatively healthy perspective about the industry they've been working in for over 20 years. 

Of the three, Day has found the most success outside of their long-running show with supporting roles in films like Horrible Bosses, Pacific Rim Uprising and, most recently, The Super Mario Bros. Movie. But even as Day has climbed the ranks of show biz, he has never lost sight of Hollywood's ridiculous and vacuous nature. In his directorial debut (which he also writes and stars in), Day attempts to send up the glitz and glamour of movie making while also paying homage to the great filmmakers of the Golden Age.

Fool's Paradise begins in a rather nonsensical fashion. A mute man (Day) is released form a mental health facility after the doctors determine nothing more can be done for him. Almost immediately upon his release, he comes upon a Hollywood producer (Ray Liotta) who recognizes that he looks exactly like a difficult actor on his set who refuses to leave his trailer. The mute man is brought to the set and shoved in front of the camera after the actor is unfazed by the producer's threats to replace him. 

The mute man, now called Latte Pronto after Larry (Ken Jeong), a struggling publicist, mistakenly takes another actor's demand for a coffee as his name, quickly becomes a star. The film he was swiftly brought on is a success and soon he marries his co-star, Christiana Dior (Kate Beckinsale), and adopts children of various ethnicities. But just as quickly as his career ramps up, it goes into decline.

Day, who is arguably best known for his comedic shrillness, interestingly opts for his character to be mute for the entirety of the film. In doing so, Day gives a nod to two of Hollywood's original comedians, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. While Day is certainly talented enough to pull off the physicality needed to become a modern day silent star, the film lacks to he supporting characters and storylines to make it interesting.

Because Fool's Paradise shows how ludicrously quick the rise and fall of an actor can be, viewers never spend much time with other characters. But perhaps this is the point and the film itself is an analogy for Hollywood, with Latte Pronto acting as the blank desert the industry was built on and the lack of interest in characters is in keeping with the infamous superficiality of Tinseltown. The problem with the film is that it presents its ideas like a series of vignettes that have been hastily stitched together. 

Each individual components of the film works: the performances are strong across the board, Jon Brion's score perfectly marries old Hollywood with new, the jokes are all on point and the movie itself is shot well. But there's something missing when all of it comes together creating a film that attempts to say something but does so with little depth.
(Roadside Attractions)

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