The Last Shot

on September 24, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
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Though it's technically based on an article by journalist Steve Fishman, ardent listeners of the National Public Radio program "This American Life" will find the scenario of writer/director Jeff Nathanson's "The Last Shot" very familiar. The article, radio story and movie are all based on a true story about FBI agent Joe Devine (Alec Baldwin), who pretended to be a movie producer to catch a teamster/mob boss taking bribes. In all instances, the story works as a parable on the allure of the film industry, as Agent Devine and his bosses became so involved with the pretend movie that they almost went into production.

In the film (which takes liberties), things get even more out of hand. Devine moves to Hollywood, where he consults with a wacky producer played in a great cameo by Joan Cusack ("School of Rock"). There are in fact many great cameos in "The Last Shot," from Buck Henry and Ray Liotta to Tim Blake Nelson, Jon Polito and Pat Morita, it's something of a B-list Hollywood who's who, and they all seem to be having a hoot. The starring cast includes Matthew Broderick as Steven Schats, the screenwriter/kennel worker whose script Devine decides to make (after a few notes from FBI headquarters); his actress girlfriend (played by Calista Flockhart), who wants to be in the movie; and fading star Emily French (Toni Collette in yet another great little performance), who sees the film as her shot at getting back on top. This could all come off as decidedly trite, and it is, but damn, it's funny.

The conventional wisdom is that there are no good movies about making movies, but closer inspection proves this to be untrue: "Day for Night," "8 1/2," "Stardust Memories," "The Big Picture," "The Player," "Ed Wood," "Living in Oblivion" and "State and Main" would all make the list of cool movies about making movies. You can safely add "The Last Shot" to that list. Starring Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Toni Collette, Tony Shalhoub, Calista Flockhart, Tim Blake Nelson and Joan Cusack. Directed and written by Jeff Nathanson. Produced by Larry Brezner, David Hoberman and David Permut. A Buena Vista release. Action/Comedy. Rated R for language and some sexual content. Running time: 93 min

Tags: Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Toni Collette, Tony Shalhoub, Calista Flockhart, Tim Blake Nelson, Joan Cusack, Jeff Nathanson, Larry Brezner, David Hoberman, David Permut, Buena Vista, Action/Comedy, This American Life
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