Fool's Paradise (2023)

1h 37min
Not released
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A satirical comedy about a down on his luck publicist, who gets his lucky break when he discovers a man recently released from a mental health facility looks just like a method actor who refuses to leave his trailer. With the help of a powerful producer, the publicist helps the man become a huge star, even marrying his beautiful leading lady. Their adventures lead them to cross paths with drunken costars, irreverent unhoused action heroes, unpredictable directors, super-agent, and power-mad moguls. Fame and fortune are not all they're cracked up to be, and the two men must fight their way back to the things that matter the most.
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Christopher Lemole, John Rickard, Alex Saks, Tim Zajaros
Charlie Day
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
97 minutes
DVD Regions:
Region 2

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Critic review

Fool's Paradise review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

Charlie Day’s vanity project of a film he writes, directs, and stars in walks a fine line between a funny experiment and a pretentious satire on fame. The film doesn’t say anything new about the vain nature of actors, the accidental nature of becoming a celebrity, the desperation of the uncertain agent, or the weirdness of Hollywood's functions. Although it’s built to have the essence of a silent film performance, it plays more like a low-rent Being There, watching a tossed-aside man stumble through a world that ends up elevating him for misreading his words. But while Chance in Being There was firm in his navigation of the world more than others, Day’s character merely fumbles around, much like this film, and is baffled by almost everything he encounters.

Day’s character is a man thrown out of a mental institution. Despite being mute, he is given the name of Latte Pronto after wandering into the role of an actor. Without saying a word, this Chaplin-esque figure strides through the lives of various Hollywood figures. He meets the failing publicist Lenny (Ken Jeong), who immediately latches onto him like a leech as he struggles to make it in this business. Chad Luxt (Adrien Brody) is an actor who can easily hold down a conversation with Latte as he does all the talking. Christiana Dior (Kate Beckinsale) is the same. Still, she manages to manipulate Latte into a marriage that crumbles, where Latte seems to go along with sex passively he didn’t ask for but doesn’t seem to deny.

The premise of Fool’s Paradise is that Latte has almost no control over his situation because nobody will accept him for anything more than what he offers others. Ultimately, Latte wants to please and be loved, even if he’s reticent about these feelings. That level of heart arrives far too late in the third act, as most of the film is reserved for silly scenarios. Latte gets roped into starring in a Western and gets way too frightened by a fight scene he’s forced into. There might be something interesting to explore with that angle, but it’s hard for Day to do more with these scenes when characters like Chad and Christiana crowd the screen and try to be just as funny.

Another aspect less explored is how Latte is meant to replace a similar actor who talks too much and has a massive ego. There is perhaps something to be said of how it is wiser to keep quiet and hide ignorance than to open it and remove all doubt. There might also be something to say about how Latte’s childlike nature reminds us of what true humanity looks like when the allure of glitz and glamour does not gunk it up. Latte appears more emotional and charming while everybody around him, speaking far too much, is the dimmest bulb in the land of lights, cameras, and action. Sadly, the film never fully realizes the depths that this character can go.

Considering how similar the concepts are, it’s impossible not to compare Fool’s Paradise to Being There. The genius behind something like Being There is that Chance spoke and was able to accidentally rise to power by people being unable to listen and never understanding who Chance really was, to the point where even the audience doesn’t have the full picture. Fool’s Paradise mistakenly reveals everything about Latte early with little surprises that follow, having him interact with a world that isn’t so much bound by misreadings of communication so much as people who won’t shut up. Despite a handful of decent comedic performances, a little of this silent-actor gimmick goes a long way and Day’s film stretches this premise to be paper-thin.

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