Fool's Paradise (2023) Review
DESPITE featuring a handful of the greatest comedians working today, Fool's Paradise misses its mark as it attempts to recreate nostalgic magic from the Chaplin era of comedy by sprinkling it into an offbeat, unfunny Hollywood satire -- a genre that is beyond plentiful nowadays.
A no-named medical patient with the inability to speak, mistakenly named Latte Pronto (Charlie Day), is thrust into the glitz and glam of Hollywood after a producer (Ray Liotta) decides to replace an identical looking actor with Latte in his current movie. What follows is a series of implausible events that takes Latte to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows -- with both sides of the coin typically being caused by his dim-witted publicist Lenny (Ken Jeong).
All signs were pointed towards me loving this movie. It is written, directed and stars Charlie Day, a loveable personality who also stars in my favourite comedy series, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, with his character in the show even possessing similar traits to this film's lead. But then it struck me -- one of the reasons Charlie's self-named character in Always Sunny works is because he is surrounded by somewhat normal personalities and plays off them in beyond normal ways, causing that perfect balance of outrageousness and roundedness. Fool's Paradise attempts to recreate this brand of comedy with its wacky Hollywood elitists, but due to Latte's inability to speak and rebut, all we are left with is their constant jabs at Hollywood; a trope which has been played to death for decades. And while Day does his very best to make the script work with albeit humorous reactions from his silent protagonist, not even an eagle can teach a turtle to soar (according to Bird Law at least).
As mentioned previously, Charlie Day is easily the best actor in the movie -- and he doesn't have to utter a word to do it. He carries as much of the film as he can, embracing his Chaplin comedy by aimlessly getting himself into good and bad situations that somehow work out for our plucky Latte. The movie constantly puts Latte into different areas with wildly different yet greatly similar characters. Standouts among a litany of characters include Adrien Brody's Chad, a high-method actor who befriends and respects Latte's devotion to his work, Kate Beckinsale's Christine Dior, a knock on celebrities constantly getting into numerous relationships as she marries Latte mere hours after meeting him, and the best being the late great Ray Liotta who plays the producer responsible for Latte's initial discovery. Liotta does his very best to make the interactions between himself and Latte work, but his devotion to this character is ultimately for not as it feels meaningless and overshadowed by the amount of underwhelming dialogue thrown onto screen.
Fool's Paradise had all the potential to be a genuine throwback to a bygone era of comedy, but filming delays and a tiresome rehash of Hollywood slander led to the downfall of Charlie Day's directorial debut. The failure of a project like this proves that not everything needs to be made into a feature-length film as something of this manner could have worked in a short-film scenario. But then again, just like Latte, it probably would've left audiences speechless -- just not in the way they were expecting.