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production company director Bobby Bowfinger is desperate to make a feature film. With a script penned by Bowfinger's accountant, titled "Chubby Rain", they're all set. However, having a budget of only $2184, Bowfinger and his crew of one cameraman, two actors and one accountant-slash-screenwriter have to make do by sneaking equipment off studio lots, "borrowing" vintage cars from other film producers and filming in public places without a permit. Of course, the one thing that could make or break the film is the pull of a big star in the lead role, and they've found just the actor: Kit Ramsey. The only problem is that they kinda "forgot" to tell him about it first. Not really a problem: they just need to film him without him finding out, that's all.
Bowfinger contains examples of:
- Acting for Two: Eddie Murphy just loves doing it.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: "I know you want to show it to the Laker Girls, but you can never show it to the Laker Girls."
- All Part of the Show: Inverted: Kit Ramsey doesn't know that it's all a show. Thankfully, due to his weak grasp on reality, he somewhat accepts what's going on, even if he's freaked out all of the time.
- Black and Nerdy: Jiff.
- Bond One-Liner: "I enjoyed meeting you, Cliff."
- The Cameo: Yup, that's Robert Downey Jr in the restaurant.
- Casting Couch: Heather Graham's character Daisy ends up sleeping with everyone involved with the film.
- Character Development: Daisy starts out as The Ingenue, literally right off the bus. Soon she begins a ruthless campaign to sleep her way to the top, starting with the writer and coming to the post-première party with "Hollywood's most powerful lesbian". The film crew are a bunch of illegal Mexican immigrants who start out barely knowing one end of the camera from the other, but they're soon bandying about technical terms and influential movies and end as successful film-making professionals. Bowfinger develops a measure of success and self-knowledge.
- Church of Happyology: "Welcome to MindHead! Welcome to MindHead! Welcome to MindHead!"
- Dueling Stars Movie: Let's face it, it's got both Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy.
- Enforced Method Acting: Invoked. Kit Ramsey has no idea he's being filmed for a movie.
- Everything Is Racist: Kit Ramsey lives on this. He considers his lack of a bankable catchphrase to be racism, he counts the number of times the letter "K" shows up in a script and if it's divisible by 3, it's a blatant reference to the Ku Klux Klan, and he considers the uttering of Shakespeare's name as being a sly way of calling him a "spear-chucker" (Shakespeare = Shake a spear).
- The Illegal: The crew besides the people mentioned in the lead.
- Jive Turkey: Bowfinger attempting to sound cool by describing a script as "butter" and "jiggy baby."
- Just Keep Driving: Eddie Murphy runs across a highway and none of the drivers react. Well, this is Los Angeles.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: See Take That
- Oscar Bait: Kit Ramsey remarks that when white actors play "retards", they get the Oscars, and when black actors play slaves, they get the nominations. So his agent needs to find him a role as a retarded slave so his winning an Oscar can be a sure thing.
- Pop Cultural Osmosis Failure:
Daisy: Do you love The Smashing Pumpkins?
Bowfinger: Are you kidding? I LOVE to do that!
- In reverse, too:
Bowfinger: Yes! We'll be just like Bogart and Bacall!
- Production Posse: Bowfinger and the regular cast of his films.
- Properly Paranoid: Kit Ramsey starts off paranoid, and then it turns out that people are following him with cameras.
- Really Gets Around: Daisy.
- Slut Shaming: Subverted when Bowfinger tries to shame Daisy for her promiscuity. She reacts with innocent curiosity, prompting him to realize he doesn't care and is happy to have more meaningless sex with her.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: This is one of Kit's main fears, along with aliens and a giant foot trying to squash him.
- Take That: Heather Graham's character is basically a hyper-condensed tale of Anne Heche (who Steve Martin briefly dated)'s rise to "fame" (by hooking up with famous people), culminating in her being in a relationship with a "powerful Hollywood lesbian" (hint hint Ellen Degeneres).
- True Companions: To some extent, Bowfinger and his regular cast.
- Viewers are Morons: "That's too much for the audience to have to think about. They have to know that the guy's name is Cliff, they have to know that he's on a cliff. That the Cliff and the cliff is the same. It's too cerebral! We're trying to make a movie here, not a film!"
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Intentionally done with the FedEx delivery at the film's end.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Kit Ramsey goes through a script and found the letter K appearing 466 times, which he says is perfectly divisible by 3. 466 isn't perfectly divisible by 3.
- Writers Suck: Bowfinger's accountant-slash-screenwriter is second on Daisy's list of guys to sleep with to get to the top.
- You Fail Film School Forever: Partly justified: you can only do one take on someone if they don't know they're being filmed.
Chubby Rain, the film within the film, contains the following tropes:
- Easily-Thwarted Alien Invasion: As far as we can tell, Kit's character is able to defeat the aliens without actually doing anything. Except maybe playing tennis. And saying "GOTCHA SUCKERS!"
- Just a Stupid Accent: Daisy's character has a bizarre pseudo-European accent for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, it makes it very hard to understand one of her funniest Narmy lines: "One slip-up in your tough, crime-filled world and you could die!"
- No Budget: That's after gross net deduction profit percentage deferment ten percent of the nut. Cash, every movie cost $2,184. "
- Special Effects Failure: The big explosion that destroys the aliens is essential a firework going off.
- Stylistic Suck: Word of God, this is why Chubby Rain was a hit.