In his feature film debut, writer/director Christopher Guest (Saturday Night Live) gets a sharp take on Hollywood dopeyness. The Big Picture follows the rise and fall of Nick Chapman (Kevin Bacon), whose first film project is squashed when a new regime takes over the studio.

The movie unfolds as a predictable little comedy — but VCRs come with fast-forward: Zip through the by-the-numbers plot until Martin Short appears as a smarmy, boot-licking, cross-eyed Hollywood agent. Wearing a wacky mop of red hair, Short’s hybrid of his happily manic Ed Grimley and his nervous 60 Minutes interviewee ranks as one of last year’s zestiest comic characters. Also watch for June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eddie Albert, and Roddy McDowall in bit parts; J.T. Walsh as a good-old- boy producer with a remote control fireplace; and a refreshing performance from Bacon.

Guest saves his best idea for last: When Nick doesn’t return a big wig producer’s phone call, a rumor spreads that he’s hot. Soon, he’s the favorite dish of Hollywood’s power-hungry. Too bad Guest didn’t use this trick in the beginning. The Big Picture might have snowballed into a delightful picture. As it is, it just comes up Short. B

The Big Picture
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