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Fool’s Paradise Review

Don’t worry, it’s just fool’s gold. The promise of bright sparks and hours of laughter are faux and tinny. Charlie Day, funnyman turned director, writer, double-role star and presumably stress head, takes to Fool’s Paradise as best he can. A clear passion project which makes sense in his mind and the sunny sensibilities of bigshot Hollywood. His love for the era comes clear, his comedy stars and stripes firmly earned and in prime position, but never coming to a head with what he writes here. Beige blazers wrapped around lazy agents fuse the self-interest and cutthroat world of Hollywood with a mental patient mistaken for a bigshot. All of it feels dated in the sense of missing the mid-2000s boat, but Day plays with the conviction of a character named after an order.  

Even if the bumbling of Being There is present throughout this, Day is no Peter Sellers. His comedy is inherently different to the Hal Ashby classic, although Ashby does not have Ray Liotta screeching and losing his mind. He decries method acting and steals people from the streets, demanding their oranges are left behind to make way for the future. Never lose your oranges, even if the late Liotta is screeching through the streets. Nothing good comes of it, but the accidental encounters are the very glue which drives this story. Everyone appears to be on a level of unhinged animosity. Sir Bingsley (Day) brings about a stunning opening scene and to some degree it makes sense. It soon warms up as Adrien Brody and Kate Beckinsale bring themselves through.  

Even then it begins to warm. Clumsy Day’s criticisms may be how rushed his status is from street urchin to movie star is, Fool’s Paradise has brief moments where it takes a moment to understand the cogs of Hollywood but its reflections are often short-stopped by cheap gags. Edie Falco and Jason Sudeikis are pulled into this too for some reason. Everyone is here for some strange and disconnected party which never soars because Fool’s Paradise has no thoughts for its pace. Its constant jabbering and the energy-drink-fuelled Lenny (Jeong) are all the point of the Hollywood rampage and the disconnect between actor, reality and the work at hand, but Day does not quite have it together. Odd little gags about chairs and the interruption of conversational flow with a man who cannot speak are strange enough, and then John Malkovich shows up screaming about fluid. 

As poor as it is, it comes from a place of real heart. Fool’s Paradise does nothing particularly wrong; it just has nothing incredibly new. Day manages to conjure his personality through a lack of vocals or dialogue in an interesting way, channelling his obvious love for the silent film stars of old. But bringing them to the modern day, to the century after Buster Keaton, is a difficult one. Loading Fool’s Paradise full of stars who are recognisable for their comedic or action-packed chops is one way of getting through it all, but the weight of all those people, all these locations and stars and their need to survive is lost in the waves. Friends are hard to come by in the cutthroat business, although fizzy drink addicts and nutcase surroundings are never as vibrant or fun as they should be. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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