Ken Jeong and Charlie Day in "Fool's Paradise"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film ‘Fool’s Paradise’ Review: Charlie Day’s directorial debut is anything but sunny

‘Fool’s Paradise’ Review: Charlie Day’s directorial debut is anything but sunny

Ken Jeong and Charlie Day in "Fool's Paradise"

The sun has set on Charlie Day’s “Fool’s Paradise” before it has even risen.

Creepy comedy that serves as both a farcical ode to old Hollywood and a Charlie Chaplin-style platform for writer-director-star Day is no good. Couple the offbeat script with a slew of celebrity cameos and the film feels more like a joke within “Threat Level Midnight” among Day’s A-list pals. It’s an Adam Sandler sensibility of cinema without the broad marketability. At best, ‘Fool’s Paradise’ could have been a hilarious episode of ‘The Other Two’ about the empty folly of Hollywood and the sleight of hand behind the magic of movies. Sadly, “Fool’s Paradise” instead keeps viewers trapped in the nine circles of hell.

Day does double (quadruple?) duty as a psychiatric patient who has lost the ability to speak due to severe trauma, and his Method actor doppleganger, Thomas Bingsley. The film opens on a desperate publicist (Ken Jeong) who is trying to find the next great actor and create a “real somebody out of nobody”. That “nobody” turns out to be a mental health patient diagnosed with “the mind of a five-year-old or a Labrador retriever” as part of a “medically indefinable” case. Naturally, the man with no name is forced out of a hospital due to the state’s lack of mental health care.

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1683911898 434 Fools Paradise Review Charlie Days directorial debut is anything but | ManOfTheCenturyMovie
Charlie Day in “A Fool’s Paradise”

Is it fun or problematic? Day broadcasts Chaplin and Steve Martin’s Ruprecht sequence in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, with no sound. He is picked up on the side of the road by a mega-producer (Ray Liotta) who gives him a lift to the set of ‘Billy the Kid’ where Thomas Bingsley (also Day) has holed up in his trailer drinking booze and throwing Western slang to stay “in character”. The mental patient, now known to Latte Pronto because Liotta aggressively asked a personal assistant for a cappuccino, steps in as a stunt double, and later a lead, after Thomas accidentally kills himself while practicing a hanging scene for the film . It’s essentially Eddie Murphy’s “Bowfinger” storyline, complete with Latte’s co-star, played by Kate Beckinsale, seducing him as part of her introduction to the incestuous and predatory nature of Hollywood. Hey, Heather Graham didn’t already in 1999 in the industry launch that actually AND a comedy classic?

Adrien Brody, Edie Falco, and Jason Sudeikis also star as industry insiders, with Common, Jason Bateman, John Malkovich, and Jillian Bell appearing in cameo roles. It’s clear that Day’s real-life friends are having a good time during production, but it would be nice if the public were caught up in the joke as well.

1683911898 158 Fools Paradise Review Charlie Days directorial debut is anything but | ManOfTheCenturyMovie
Ray Liotta and Charlie Day in “A Fool’s Paradise”

Yet it is the late icon Liotta, in one of her last performances, the small highlight of the film. Liotta screaming “Fuck you!” in a cell phone and being probably the only sane character makes him the ideal (and slightly unhinged) straight man for whatever the hell Day is doing on screen. The one saving grace of “Fool’s Paradise” is watching Liotta do what he did best.

Unfortunately, Liotta is not the main star. Day, a scene-stealer from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” entangles himself in an unfunny slapstick comedy with references to Orson Welles and Angelina Jolie. Sure, Latte Pronto can climb the Hollywood ladder without saying a word. The only problem is that the supposed inside jokes of “Fool’s Paradise” fall on deaf ears.

Score: d

A Roadside Attractions version, “Fool’s Paradise” is now in theaters.

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