Independent film 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 $2,184, 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.Directed by Frank Oz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Bowfinger stars Steve Martin as Bobby Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy as Kit Ramsey and Kit's "stunt double" Jiff, and a handful of other stars.
Bowfinger contains examples of:
- 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.
- Blackmail: When Bowfinger's con is finally discovered, he still gets permission to use Kit's footage by blackmailing MindHead with footage of Kit flashing the Laker Girls.
- Bond One-Liner: "I enjoyed meeting you, Cliff."
- 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!" Played with, as whatever their methods, MindHead's agents do seem genuinely concerned about Kit, and they're the only ones able to rein in Kit's raving eccentricities. If not for them, he'd likely be in a mental institution with all the paranoia he's coping with. In the finale they put the pieces together and stage a rescue from the film crew Gas Lighting him.
- 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.
- Madness Mantra: "Keep it together, keep it together, keep it together..."
- Movie-Making Mess: So much - the equipment is "borrowed" from unknowing studios, the crew was taken at the Californian border with Mexico... Artistic License – Film Production doesn't even start to cover it.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Intentionally done with the FedEx delivery at the film's end.
- 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 Smashing Pumpkins?
Bowfinger: Are you kidding? I LOVE to do that!
- In reverse, too:Bowfinger: Yes! We'll be just like Bogart and Bacall!Daisy: Who?
- In reverse, too:
- Production Posse: In-universe. 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.
- Lampshaded by his Mindhead therapist who actually makes a remark along these lines upon catching Bowfinger and his crew in the act. Prior to that, he seemed to consider Kit's utterances about aliens and pod people to be more paranoia.
- Really Gets Around: Daisy.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: This is one of Kit's main fears, along with aliens and a giant foot trying to squash him.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: The song playing when Daisy first gets off the bus? "Legend of a Cowgirl", about a woman who loves 'em and leaves 'em.
- 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!"
- Wimp Fight / Fight Scene Failure: A spectacular, intentional case in the end's movie-within-a-movie Fake Purse Ninjas.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Kit Ramsey goes through a script and found the letter K appearing 1456 times, which he says is perfectly divisible by 3. 1456 isn't perfectly divisible by 3. Perhaps it's Kit who sucks at math. Or he just made it up.
- 1458 is divisible by 3, and the result is 486, which is what Kit says. Eddie Murphy might have swapped in the 6.
- Writers Suck: Bowfinger's accountant-slash-screenwriter is second on Daisy's list of guys to sleep with to get to the top.
- Your Cheating Heart: Bowfinger tries to break up with Daisy because she had sex with Jiff. She simply responds, "So?" — and he realizes he doesn't care and is happy to have more meaningless sex with her.
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!"
- Enforced Method Acting: An in-universe example with Kit has no idea he's in the movie, so when the audience sees him terrified of the aliens, he is.
- Fake Shemp: Jiff is hired for this purpose once Kit hides into MindHead.
- I'm Melting: At some point, a cop that's pulled Kit over begins to melt alive after having slept with an alien lifeform.
- 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: Also in-universe. "Movies cost millions of dollars you say? That's after gross net deduction profit percentage deferment ten percent of the nut. Cash, every movie costs $2,184". Turns out no it doesn't, Bowfinger goes broke during production, so he has to steal Daisy's credit card to finance the rest of the film.
- Special Effects Failure: In-Universe, the big explosion that destroys the aliens is essentially a firework going off.
- Stylistic Suck: Word of God, this is why Chubby Rain was a hit. Judging from the footage we seen, it's believable.