Fool's Paradise (2023)

Director: Charlie Day

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Starring: Charlie Day, Ken Jeong, Kate Beckinsale, Adrien Brody, Jason Sudeikis, Edie Falco, Jason Bateman, Common, Ray Liotta, John Malkovich

Released from a mental health facility, a non-speaking man (Charlie Day) finds himself whisked onto a movie set because of his uncanny resemblance to a method actor who refuses to leave his trailer. Being used as a stand-in, the man's lacking talent is mistaken for an avant-garde performance which grabs his co-stars attention. Seizing the opportunity is a down-on-his-luck publicist named Lenny (Ken Jeong), who mistakenly believes the man's name is Latte Pronto.

Stepping away from his well-worn shtick, Day draws inspiration from silent-movie stars for his role of an easily led man with the mind of a five-year-old. As an innocent, he stumbles upon a world where everyone uses him as a commodity for their own gain instead of treating him like an actual person. While the character being a blank slate allows others to put their own self-serving meanings onto him, it is also a barrier that highlights how little audiences have to connect to the lead. Wide-eyed expressions can only take a viewer so far.

The film rotates through the impressive cast, allowing each person a chance to use their screen-time to deliver baffling work. While it appears the cast are having fun, that does not translate into laughs for viewers as the film aimlessly lurches between these barely connected segments. What's left is an attempted critique of show-business which feels too surface level to have any bite, resembling a lesser version of what films like The Player and Maps To The Stars previously delivered. The focus instead is on Lenny and Latte's friendship, hinging on audience's emotional investment for a plot-point which feels sadly tacked on. While this may not be a promising start to Charlie Day's directorial career, things can only get better. Let us hope the jokes are remembered for next time.

Fool's Paradise is available on Digital Platforms now