Fool’s Paradise REVIEW – Short on Laughs

While ambitious, Fool's Paradise doesn't succeed with its aspirations.

Fool's Paradise
Fool's Paradise

What I appreciate is that a movie with a concept like Fool’s Paradise is something studios are still willing to take a chance on. Probably because the headliner, writer and director is Charlie Day – this is also Day’s directorial debut. While there are many familiar faces, and the film certainly had moments that made me snigger, the main issue is that there isn’t really a purpose to what unfolds. The film takes us through a series of weird sketches, and doesn’t really use these moments to build up its message, so when we finally see what it’s going for at the end, it all feels a bit hollow.

Day plays Latte Pronto, a man who’s recently been discharged from a mental health institution since the state doesn’t cover the kind of healthcare he needs. While he’s wandering the streets, he’s discovered by The Producer (Ray Liotta), who realises he’s a dead ringer for the main actor in their new movie. The Producer can’t get the actor (also played by Day) to work, so he puts Latte in his place. The problem? Well, Latte doesn’t speak. Day embarks with huge aspirations for the role, since he would need to depend on his physicality to sell the humour and absurdity of the various situations Latte finds himself in.

Day is a wonderful actor, and is always comedic in all the roles he takes on, but this isn’t one of them. He goes for a mixture of Charlie Chaplin and Mr Bean, but doesn’t manage to even be in the same batting league as either one. Day is funny when he has dialogue to play with – that’s his strength. The funniest parts of the movie is when he’s actually playing the actor character and spewing absolute nonsense about method acting, or shooting a gun maniacally for the camera.

There’s a whole host of familiar faces, including Kate Beckinsale, Adrien Brody, John Malkovich, Jason Sudekis and Jason Bateman, yet most of them don’t even make an impact in the film. Fool’s Paradise ends up being a lot like The Bubble in that respect: lots of talented actors in a project but no one’s given proper material to shine. Brody is probably the only one who manages to be funny, really embodying that pretentious actor vibes of his character Chad Luxt. All the scenes with him and Day are a stand-out – especially that chair gag – and so the movie suffers when Chad doesn’t appear anymore.

As Latte goes through the ups and downs of a Hollywood career, by his side at all times is his publicist Lenny (Ken Jeong). This is the central relationship in the film, since most of the characters come and go. However, it’s hard to perceive a friendship that’s not really shown to us, unless you count Lenny’s offering of energy drinks the deepest form of love.

Day clearly had fun making this movie, and it’s apparent how well-liked he is, considering all the actors who probably did the film because it’s him in the director’s chair. Kudos to him for trying to do something new, but, unfortunately, Fool’s Paradise largely misses the mark.

Review screener provided.

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Fool's Paradise
Fool's Paradise starts out promising, before devolving into a series of sketches that fail to give substance to the film and its core themes.