Monday 19 June 2023

REVIEW: Fool's Paradise (2023) - Starring Charlie Day and Ken Jeong

Review by Jon Donnis
Time for another review, this time we have Fool's Paradise, which co-stars Ray Liotta in one of his final roles before his death. With something of an all star cast I was quite interested in seeing what this film had to offer.

In this tale, a man named John Doe (Charlie Day), who is both mute and possesses the mental capacity of a five-year-old, finds himself released from a mental hospital. Sadly, the state can no longer afford to provide him with the necessary treatment. Left to fend for himself, John Doe takes to the streets, relying on the guidance of anyone he encounters in his daily struggles.

Meanwhile, the Producer of a biographical film about the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid faces a frustrating predicament. Renowned method actor Sir Tom Bingsley, chosen to portray the iconic character, stubbornly refuses to emerge from his trailer. This unfortunate situation not only consumes valuable time but also drains the film's budget. In a desperate bid to salvage the production, the Producer decides to enlist a stand-in.

By a twist of fate, the Producer stumbles upon John Doe, who has taken to selling oranges on the street. Struck by the uncanny resemblance between John Doe and Bingsley, the Producer sees an opportunity and hires him as a stand-in for the elusive actor.

We also meet Lenny (Ken Jeong), an aspiring publicist struggling to keep clients since his move to Los Angeles. Determined to find fresh talent, Lenny resorts to underhanded means, bribing his way onto studio lots. In his pursuit, Lenny witnesses John Doe participating in the filming of the biopic and misinterprets his name as "Latte Pronto," owing to the Producer's persistent coffee demands.

Tragedy strikes the film set when Sir Tom Bingsley meets an untimely demise, the result of a misguided method acting experiment involving a hanging scene. With no other choice, the production is compelled to continue with "Billy the Kid" portrayed by Pronto. Although hindered by Pronto's lack of acting prowess and his tendency to look directly into the camera, his co-stars Christiana Dior (Kate Beckinsale) and Chad Luxt (Adrien Brody) find themselves captivated by what they perceive as an avant-garde performance. Inspired by Pronto's unconventional style, they begin to emulate his approach to acting, adding a new dimension to the film's narrative.

This is an interesting take on the classic "Rom-Com", there are moments of absurdity, the kind of ridiculous comedy that Ken Jeong is well known for, as well as some very poignant moments, and sweet emotion, that balances the film very well.

Also written and directed by Charlie Day, Charlie puts in a great performance as "Latte Pronto", a very likeable character, who barely utters a word in the entire film, clearly inspired by Peter Sellers' character Chance the Gardener from Being There (1979).

As a whole the film is very much a satire on Hollywood, although perhaps it is a bit more accurate than Hollywood would like to admit. Charlie Day plays the "fool" character well, and as he has his rise and fall in Hollywood, he just seems to go along with it oblivious, and that is where the likeability of the character really comes from. Surrounded by vain characters, crazy personalities and every Hollywood stereotype.

This style of film has been done before, and better, films like the previously mentioned Being There, as well as Mr Bean, Burn Hollywood Burn, Babylon and possibly most famously Charlie Chaplin's The Tramp, but for a modern version of the "Fool" story, this is done pretty well.

The Good
Just over 90 minutes is the correct time for this film, a strong cast with big name actors really helps get your attention. Charlie Day does a great job as the silent fool character.

The Bad
I think sometimes the lack of a voice for Latte Pronto hurts the character, in Mr Bean for example, the lack of much of a voice was ok for the TV series, but for the movies they had to add more dialog as it helps in the long run. I think this film would have been better if it had done this. Charlie Day is famous for his voice, so taking that away hurts his performance, as he doesn't necessarily have the facial expression mastery that someone like Rowan Atkinson has.

An enjoyable film, with some strong performances and a great cast. There are plenty of fun performances, and a decent script.

I score Fool's Paradise a fair 8/10.

Out Now in Cinemas and on digital at and you can pre-order on Blu-ray at