The Last Shot (2004) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white:

The Last Shot (2004) is a comedy based on the true story of an FBI sting operation in which the Feds pretended to be making a movie in order to incriminate some mob officials.

The bogus film scheme is concocted by an FBI agent (Alec Baldwin) who has been relegated to assignments leading nowhere in minor field offices. He realizes that by posing as a producer with union problems, he can trap some mobsters into accepting a bribe to "persuade" the union to co-operate, thus committing illegal racketeering. The agency approves his idea but he knows nothing about making a movie, so he travels to Hollywood for consulting advice, and discovers that he will need a script. As luck would have it, he discovers the perfect sucker in an aspiring writer (Matthew Broderick), a naive dreamer who is 40ish but still clinging to his show business aspirations by working as a ticket taker at Grauman's Chinese theater. Broderick has written a script called "Arizona" about a woman who is battling cancer and seeking the holy grounds of the Hopi Indians deep within the Grand Canyon. The writer is thrilled that anyone wants his script, and even more thrilled that the "backers" also want him to direct! In fact, he is so thrilled that he offers only minimal resistance when Baldwin tells him that they have to film in Rhode Island, "the Arizona of the East."

Toni Collette plays an actress who had a drug problem after her Academy Award nomination, was blackballed, and did a little porn, but is now clean and wants in the movie badly. Her performance is one of the many highlights of the funniest new film I have seen in a very long time. I do not want to spoil any of the jokes by revealing more of the plot. I have to believe this film could have done well if promoted properly, but it could be that understanding the humor requires more knowledge of filmmaking than the typical mall audience has.

The only disappointment for me was that it was over so quickly.



  • the transfer is widesceen, anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 screens
  • audio Commentary with Director Jeff Nathanson and Actor Matthew Broderick
  • "Inspired by Actual Events" featurette
  • deleted dcenes
  • "Robert Evans Presents..."
  • "Joan Cusack's Montage"



Toni Collette and Eric Roberts do a scene in a movie within the movie. Roberts shows his bum, Collette her breasts.

Scoop's (Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)'s) note's in yellow:

"Dear Dad. A funny thing happened to me on my way to a hit movie ... "

Last summer I saw several comedies in commercial theaters and it seemed to me that almost every film came with a trailer for The Last Shot. It seemed to me that they were building this up as the big comedy hit of the Autumn. The next time I heard about it, it was being released to DVD. In between those two periods, the distributor snuck it into a mere 35 theaters in the entire United States.

The ironic upshot of the situation was that the director of The Last Shot had an experience similar to that of the director character in his film - a lot of excitement about making his first movie, followed by a lot of disappointment. I guess he did better than the character. At least he got to make the entire film, and it's not bad at all, although I didn't share Tuna's unrestricted enthusiasm. I liked it, but I didn't love it, presumably because I have seen umpteen comedies about the film-making process. The actual making of the film takes up a lot of running time, and is basically a recycling of material seen elsewhere. I'm tired of films about making films, and I didn't see any new ideas here.

The FBI portion of the story, however, is original and excellent, made even juicier by the fact that the core of the story is essentially true. Jeff Nathanson, author of the highly praised Catch Me If You Can, made his directorial debut here, using his own screenplay for The Last Shot, which was inspired by "What's Wrong With This Picture?", an article in the February 1996 issue of Details magazine. In real life, the FBI actually duped a pair of screenwriters named Dan Lewk and Gary Levy into thinking they would make a movie.

Nathanson told the Sac Ticket:

"This is much more of a true story than people realize. The FBI really did do this. The FBI really went to Providence, Rhode Island, with a script that was supposed to be about a road trip through Arizona. The first thing that caught my attention was that they really thought they could nail mobsters by making a movie. And I had lived the Matthew Broderick part, a frustrated wannabe in Los Angeles, for many years. So I had two things I really liked, and I put them together.

Not only did these guys (Lewk and Levy) think they had it made in Hollywood, they thought they were going to direct other movies. They started scouting locations. They started casting. They had a famous actress who was there, trying to get into their movie. They had production offices. They were building sets. They were doing the whole thing. In fact, they were going to do three movies, all over the country. And then, of course, they had their dreams shattered.

The FBI agents involved saw it as just another sting operation, and one that happened to fail. They still thought it was a good idea, even though they didn't nail anyone. They never got the movie made, and they never convicted anyone. One mobster died awaiting trial and the other, I think, got off. In the end, our taxpayer dollars went for naught."

For me, the greatest pleasure of the DVD came not in the film itself, but in a very edgy special feature. When the real-life FBI agent pulled the plug on the bogus film, he simply told the two filmmakers that the investors had backed out. He never informed them that nobody ever intended to make their film, and that the entire project was part of an FBI sting. They did not become aware of it until much later when they were surprised to see the the whole story, including their own names, in a law enforcement article in the newspaper. They never again saw the FBI agent who had duped them into thinking he was a producer ...

... until now.

The director of The Last Shot arranged for the FBI man and the two aspiring auteurs to meet again after all these years, and they talked it all through. They were all encouraged to speak freely, and the FBI allowed the G-man to speak candidly and on the record. They were all polite, but the two suckers were obviously still pissed off. Now THAT was some impressive theater, and a great addition to the already excellent DVD package.

As for the film, it does have lots of pleasures. Broderick and Baldwin are excellent in roles tailor-made for them. (Baldwin is even from Rhode Island.) There are some great performances in small roles. Tuna mentioned Toni Collette, but the one that cracked me up was Joan Cusack as a foul-mouthed producer. There are also some funny cameos from such Hollywood stalwarts as Eric Roberts (naked!) and Mr. Myagi (thankfully not naked!)

Bottom line: Tuna loved the movie; I was not as enthusiastic about the movie, but loved the DVD features. Either way, we got a lot of pleasure from this package.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It never reached more than 35 theaters and grossed about a half million dollars.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says ,"This is a very high C+. It is the finest adult-targeted comedy I have seen in a long time." Scoop adds, "I call it a C for the movie, but Tuna's C+ is reasonable for the total DVD package. If you like the movie's idea, you'll find the execution to your liking as well, and the DVD has worthwhile extras."

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