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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A Funny Movie Sting
by Betty Jo Tucker

What a terrible thing to do! Hire a wannabe director to make a movie, get his hopes up, cast the film -- and not tell him the whole thing is a ruse to trap a criminal. Terrible, yes. But as depicted in The Last Shot, it’s also very funny. Alec Baldwin plays the ambitious FBI agent behind this movie sting, and Matthew Broderick portrays a naïve theater usher fooled by Baldwin’s scheme. Both actors have never been better.

Based on a true story, The Last Shot shows how gullible people can be about moviemaking and how seductive the filmmaking process is. Even Baldwin’s character becomes obsessed with his fake movie, offering to produce a series of similar FBI films all around the country. Baldwin obviously has a ball with this role. He projects the surface sincerity we expect from his character and speaks with such an amusing attitude of authority. He’s great fun to watch here!  

Co-star Broderick excels as a wide-eyed innocent who’s so happy to be directing a movie that he believes everything the “producer” tells him. Broderick’s character has co-written a screenplay titled Arizona, which opens in the desert -- but Baldwin insists filming must take place in Providence, Rhode Island. Even though Broderick can’t imagine a “desert” in Rhode Island, he agrees. Why Providence? It’s closer to the mobster (Tony Shalhoub, wonderful as always) who’s targeted in this unusual sting. Baldwin’s explanation to Broderick?  “Rhode Island is the Arizona of the East.”

In addition to Shalhoub, actors Calista Flockhart, Toni Collette, Ray Liotta and Joan Cusack offer strong support. Flockhart deftly chews the scenery as Broderick’s volatile girlfriend who wants to be in his movie; Collette nails the role of an emotional has-been actress willing to do anything to play the lead; Liotta oozes smugness as Baldwin’s more successful brother; and Cusack, although too briefly on camera, is simply hilarious as an executive brought on to explain all things Hollywood. Too bad Tim Blake Nelson’s performance isn’t up to par, but it’s probably not his fault. Nelson’s role as Broderick’s angry brother seems almost an afterthought.        

I enjoyed the enlightening DVD bonus materials for The Last Shot, especially “Inspired by Actual Events.” This featurette brings together the real people involved in the movie sting. Agent Garland Schweickhardt and aspiring filmmakers Gary Levy and Dan Lewk share their personal reactions to the FBI’s Operation Dramex, which took place in 1989.             

The “Deleted Scenes” item also impressed me. Director Jeff Nathanson’s tongue-in-cheek introduction made me laugh, and I appreciated his reasons for not using these scenes in the movie.

Because I can never get enough of Joan Cusack on camera, I loved the montage of her funny moments from the film, even though it’s much too short.

Narration comments from legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans and audio commentary with Nathanson and Broderick round out the bonus presentations.

Fans of behind-the-scenes movie comedies should definitely add The Last Shot to their must-see lists.

(Released by Touchstone Home Entertainment and rated “R” for language and some sexual content. Bonus DVD material unrated.)  

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