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by Willie Waffle

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The Last Shot

Everyone loves a movie, even the FBI.

Based on a true story (but not completely), Alec Baldwin stars as FBI agent Joe Devine - an ambitious crime fighter who wants to move up to the big leagues and catch New York Mafioso, but must do his duty in minor league Houston (no offense to our friends in Texas, it's a plot point, not my opinion). After capturing a local tough guy, Joe has a brilliant idea to help break up the mafia, and make himself a star agent.

Devine decides to lure in the mafia by posing as a film producer on location in Providence who needs help with the local union, therefore, inviting possible racketeering charges when the mafia offers to fix the problem for a price. Of course, Devine and the FBI don't know anything about making a movie, so they hire a real writer/director, Steven Schats (Matthew Broderick), to make his dream project. The problem? Steven, his friends, his girlfriend Valerie (Calista Flockhart) and everyone in Hollywood think they are making a real movie.

Will the FBI pull it off? Will Steven discover the truth?

The Last Shot is a funny movie that needs some help. I enjoyed writer/director Jeff Nathanson's skewering of Hollywood and how he uses the FBI agents acting like Hollywood players for great laughs, however, the movie needs more jokes. He has a great team of actors who can handle comedy with aplomb, but Nathanson resists the temptation to make The Last Shot into a true farce. He tries to make Steven into a sympathetic character, and even attempts to humanize Devine, when laughs would have been better. The situation is ripe for rapid-fire comedy, but the trigger is stuck on Nathanson's joke gun. What's here is amusing, but more would have taken the film to another level.

For a smaller movie, The Last Shot has an all star cast of talented performers, and one fun cameo. Baldwin is wonderfully restrained as he plays the zealous FBI lawman (no hamming it up in this one, thankfully), Ray Liotta makes an appearance as Devine's brother and boss that is marked by his trademark intensity, and Broderick does what he can, but suffers from the lack of jokes. His character needs to be more manic and desperate when you consider this is his big chance and dream project, one in the making for years and years.

In The Last Shot, it's the women who steal the show. Surprisingly, Flockhart had the most comic performance as an actress on the edge and ready to snap over her failed career. She gets the best, most outrageous jokes, even if Nathanson goes to the well once too often with one of them. You'll also enjoy Joan Cusack as a foul-mouthed producer who serves as Devine's role model. She embodies the perfect Hollywood producer stereotype and runs with it by bringing the kind of energy the rest of the film needs. Meanwhile, Toni Collette swoops in at just the right moment to help move the story along. As a formerly great actress who sees the movie as a comeback opportunity, she goes along with the absurdity of the situation as well as Cusack.

The Last Shot is worth checking out if you are interested, but it makes for a better night at home on cable.

2 Waffles (Out Of 4)

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