“Fool’s Paradise” is fool’s gold.

“Do nothing, works for tons of actors.”

– Ray Liotta as The Producer.

Fool’s Paradise is the directorial debut of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-present)’s Charlie Day. It’s a comedy about the absurdity and tragedy of the business of Hollywood, a business whose real-life drama has encroached on the film with Charlie Day prematurely ending the promotional tour of this film in solidarity with the ongoing Writer’s Strike, going out silently, just like his lead.

Day plays a recently abandoned mental health patient who’s lost the ability to speak, regressing to a child-like intelligence. Styled in the mold of Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp, Buster Keaton’s Stoneface, or even Tom Hank’s Forrest Gump, the silent Latte Pronto is a “fool” who finds himself tossed from adventure to adventure, lacking agency, reacting to the world without acting on it. But is Day’s Latte Pronto the titular fool, or is that the rest of Hollywood, or we, the audience?


Charlie Day as Latte Pronto in FOOL’S PARADISE. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

More sly than radical, the social commentary of Fool’s Paradise is occasionally biting, often chuckle-worthy, and always well-observed. Every character in this film is a neurotic mess, unsubtly desperate for power and influence. In fact, that slyness only applies to the visual jokes, as Fool’s Paradise is at its heart, blunt.

Adrian Brody (See How They Run) plays a drunk, playboy movie star, easily swayed by the smallest compliment and obsessed with Day’s Latte Pronto being “…from the streets.” Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) plays a privileged director who doesn’t seem to actually be good at his job, yet lives in a gigantic mansion. Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), in his second posthumous comedic role of the year, plays a reckless producer who hates actors. Ken Jeong (The Hangover), the co-lead of the film, plays a publicist who’s all hype and desperation. These characteristics are not subtle, but they shine when interacting with the silent Day, protecting their own wants and needs on to him so efficiently that Kate Beckinsdale (Underworld) talks herself into proposing marriage right after the sex she talked herself into propositioning.


L-R: Ray Liotta as The Producer and Charlie Day as Latte Pronto in FOOL’S PARADISE. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Despite the benefits of this device, Day’s silence is ultimately the biggest weakness of the film. It robs us of Day’s renouned off-beat line deliveries. Instead, the best jokes come from his turn as a British actor doppleganger. This silence also robs Latte Pronto of agency. Now, not every film needs a lead with agency, the aforementioned Forrest Gump (1994) is an American classic whose lead makes almost no active choices, but Fool’s Paradise is a wandering film about a man trying to reclaim his voice. The social commentary of the film comes up short because Latte Pronto never tries and fails to speak, he simply doesn’t speak, because he has nothing to say. Where the social commentary shines brightest is when Day briefly departs the vehicle and employs another, using the Kuleshov Effect to frame the spray from newly struck oil as a metaphorical cum shot, implying that the vicious hoarding of wealth and power of the bourgeoise is not economic in nature, but sexual.

The screenplay’s handling of sub-text aside, Day’s directorial shines as a showcase of his sense of direction on set. It’s well-shot and edited, with a particularly vibrant sense of color in the set-dressing and costumes, evoking a technicolor look in some of his exteriors, shooting LA with a mix of traditional and handheld camera work, oscillating between extreme wide shots that invoke canvases and fisheye close ups in the same scene. More than anything, Day’s sense of space and timing make the case that he deserves a second at-bat.


L-R: Kate Beckinsale as Christiana Dior, Charlie Day as Latte Pronto, and Ken Jeoung as Lenny in FOOL’S PARADISE. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Fool’s Paradise is charming and funny, even if it falls short of the subversive expectations its auteur brings with him. A polished piece of fool’s gold, it’s only essential viewing for dedicated Charlie Day fans.

In theaters May 12th, 2023.

For more information, head to the official Fool’s Paradise website.

Final Score: 3 out of 5.

Fools Paradise final poster_rgb

Categories: In Theaters, Reviews

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