Charlie Day takes Hollywood by storm with an all-star cast of absurd satire. Fool’s Paradise A merciless mockery of every rung of fame and fortune on the filmmaking ladder. He plays dual roles, as a discharged mental health patient who just happens to be the nemesis of a troubled movie star. The comic friction is that Day really doesn’t say anything (in a scene reminiscent of a Jerry Lewis movie, waitereven over there). The hapless protagonist can only imitate the action, getting hammered around Tinsel Town like a human piñata. Day gets bonus points for being smart, but the comedic performance loses steam. The laughs die down as the hopeful first act goes nowhere.
Lenny (Ken Jeong), an energy-drink-drinking public relations hacker, sits in a coffee shop trying to keep his only client. He was fired for having no connections or industry clout. Lenny was back to his old routine of trying to sneak into a big studio. Meanwhile, at a mental institution, a psychiatrist marvels at an odd patient (Day) who has no name, record, or association of any kind. He’s a cheerful guy who does everything as directed, like an obedient dog. They threw him in the slums of Los Angeles because that’s how poor people behave.
The producer (Ray Liotta) screams into his phone in his Porsche. He couldn’t believe his eyes—a poor man selling oranges on the side of the road with undocumented immigrants was Sir Thomas Billingsley’s double, and he was the first-line protagonist of “Billy the Kid.” Just a nightmare. Producers grab the confused patient and run to the set.
The cast and crew are relieved that there are any replacements. Costume-munching method actors, co-stars Christian Dior (Kate Beckinsale) and Chad Luxter (Adrien Brody), are immediately drawn to this silent miracle. Producer Asks for His “Coffee Latte,” Filming Progresses! When the espresso with steamed milk arrived, Lenny bumped into the unexpected actor. Latte Pronto (Day) enlists a publicist to guide his skyrocketing career.
Christiana quickly falls in love with such a natural talent and must become romantically involved. Chad infuses Latte into a bad boy life of cars, alcohol, drugs and women. Latte now lives in the studio’s mansion and suddenly has an agent, business manager, stylist and slavish intern.
Day, who also wrote and directed his debut feature, plays a latte that is purely a reaction to the absurd. He said nothing but was praised for staring into the camera and breaking the fourth wall. It’s a Charlie Chaplin-inspired performance that underscores the sheer silliness of Lutter’s stardom. Day’s sledgehammer message is that any “fool” can be idolized, surrounded by sycophants, and made blockbusters.
Fool’s Paradise Derailed
Fool’s Paradise As Day stretched his concept down the thinnest, it began to fail. As the fame inevitably fades, Latte understands the downside. Day’s attempts to form an emotional connection amid Latte and Lenny’s renewed success simply don’t work. They never had a believable friendship. Would Lenny be this close if Latte wasn’t a hit? To say the storyline went off track would be an understatement.
Fool’s Paradise become exhausted. In a tiresome second half, Day’s clear sarcasm lacked originality. What started as a brilliant idea turned into a scramble to find a cohesive ending. It never was, which is disappointing. You can go too far narratively, but you can only tread water for so long without sinking.
Fool’s Paradise Presented by Armory Films and Wrigley Pictures. It opens May 12 at Roadside Attractions.