Last Shot [2004]

Taking off from an amazing true story, The Last Shot mines some pleasing inside-Hollywood gags about indie-film production. But this is no ordinary indie: An FBI agent (Alec Baldwin) sets up an elaborate ruse to sting some mobsters in Rhode Island, by picking a screenplay from the slush pile and financing pre-production. The movie will never be made, but the bogus production will lure the mobsters into the trap. The hitch is, the starry-eyed writer-director (Matthew Broderick), cast, and crew have no idea they're part of an undercover operation--the poor saps think their ship has come in and they're actually making a movie. Adding to the joke is that Baldwin finds himself enchanted by the moviemaking world and beginning to care about his unsuspecting stooge (Broderick is at his most engaging). Writer-director Jeff Nathanson (who scripted Catch Me if You Can) doesn't quite trust this funny set-up, sweetening the pot with too sentimental nudges, but the two stars develop a handy odd-couple chemistry. Toni Collette, as a has-been actress, and Joan Cusack, as a sharp-tongued agent, have some riotous moments. --Robert Horton

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