‘Purim’ for Best Picture?


Christopher Moynihan … such a big Pischer.

"Well, actually, I'm 5'9". I just look taller because the others in the scene are shorter than I am," says Moynihan, whose turn as Sam Pischer in "Home for Purim," a movie-within-the-movie, is considerably one of the better features of the mainframe, if not mainstream, "For Your Consideration," opening Nov. 22.

For your consideration: Southern-fried latkes with Mint Jewlips as chaser? That's "Purim," the laughably laudable little grogger of a groaner as the minor holiday is the setting for a major homecoming on a Southern plantation with twisted Jewish roots.

Tomorrow is another daze? Obviously, director Christopher Guest feels at home homing in on the hypocryphal as he has done so originally in "A Mighty Wind," "Best in Show," and "Waiting for Guffman."

Here they're waiting for Elijah … no, that's Passover, not Purim. But maybe the joke's on everyone in a film where everyone seems to be available for "Driving Miss Daisy" into the Mississippi. It's not so much over the top as over the dreidel. ("Home for Chanukah," the sequel?)

Craft services even got in on the Jewish joke, hitting it right serving hamantashen.

Here, Guest's choice for Oscar consideration is Oscar itself, the picture of hypocrisy, as buzz starts building about the stars of "Purim."

Has Haman got a chance in hell? Is "Purim" the three-cornered hat trick to get Harry Shearer an Oscar? Gone with the wind — so why don't you wear a sweater? Dare they do a comedy about Adar?

The dare is well-taken; the whole megillah — a family reunion on the holiday considered most important by the dying '40s-style Jewish matriarch — is mishuguh. But then, Guest's accommodations are always geared to the absurd.

Nothing can be more catholic in casting than having Moynihan as the good old Jewish boy come home from the Navy. "I guess it's much easier for me to relate to Brian Chubb" — his character playing the character of Sam Pischer in the interior movie — "than Sam since I'm an Irish Catholic boy."

But then, he concedes, Chubb is also the name of a fish dish popular with Jewish families at Sunday-morning bagel bashes.

Not that anyone would consider Sam, the white-bread military man contemplating his navel, as anyone who's touched a corned-grit special. But that's the wry coming through, thanks to the daffy subversive script by Guest and Eugene Levy, which serves well the raffish repertory group assembled, many guests of past Guest mockumentaries.

More than anything, Moynihan is a study in … study.

"I knew nothing about it," says the actor previously poorly versed in Purim. "It wasn't on my radar."

But the navy man sealed his appreciation through research that "showed me it's a fun holiday. I'm surprised you don't hear more about it."

If Purim offers lots to like, it was also evident during nosh breaks, where "the whole table was full of Jewish food."

Moynihan's had a full plate lately; his many acting credits include "A Mighty Wind" and TV's quickly canceled "Coupling."

Now this is the second go-round with Guest. If there's a method to the madness of "Consideration," it is two-fold, a bifurcated bash at Hollywood's self-righteousness and the distinction between art and commerce, which comes into play when the Southern bell of bills tolls for the film and "Home for Purim" finds itself homeless.

Holiday Inn, anyone?

Moynihan has no such problems. He's at home writing and producing for TV, too, which he is now doing, co-piloting a Fox project about "the conversation boundaries between men and women."

Or, as Sam Pischer might put it, boychicks and maideles with ears of corn in their ears.


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