Right before the credits to The Last Shot begin to roll, Matthew Broderick turns to Alec Baldwin while sitting inside Grauman’s Chinese Theater and tells the projectionist to “play it again, Sam!” It’s a reference, of course, to Casablanca, except that Humphrey Bogart never actually said the line in Michael Curtiz’s famous 1942 film. Not even close, but it’s a lie audiences have unwittingly spread over the years. (The line does appear in the Marx Brothers spoof A Night in Casablanca, so maybe that’s where the confusion started.) Jeff Nathanson, writer of Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal, seems to understand the way Hollywood trades in lies. Loosely adapted from a 1996 article published in Details magazine, The Last Shot tells the story of an aspiring filmmaker, Steven Schats (Broderick) convinced that he’s going to make his directorial debut with the film Arizona, the melodramatic story of his sister’s death in the Grand Canyon. Except that Steven’s producer, Joe Devine (Baldwin), is really an F.B.I. agent, and pre-production for Arizona is a ruse for the government to get their hands on high-profile mob figures living on the East Coast. Nathanson piles one lie on top of another, but while there’s something to be said about a film this eager to give the finger to the dream factory that made it, The Last Shot struggles to make a discernable point. Nathanson recognizes the allure of Hollywood but doesn’t exactly study it. More clever in concept than execution, the film is more or less a neutered version of Altman’s sexy beast The Player. Nathanson scarcely knows how to compose a shot, and his film, however funny it can get, is a total head-scratcher. From Joan Cusack’s psychotic exec to Toni Collette’s primadonna actress, the performances are as inspired as the outlandish references to late-term abortions and Clifford the dog’s huge red testicles, but what do any of these random acts of humor really have to do with the Hollywood industry?
- Touchstone Pictures
- 94 min
- Jeff Nathanson
- Jeff Nathanson
- Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Toni Collette, Calista Flockhart, Tony Shalhoub, Tim Blake Nelson, Buck Henry, James Rebhorn, Ray Liotta
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: