Rated: R for adult language, and strong sexual content.
Genre: Mock Documentary Comedy
Directed By: Griffin Dunne
Running Time: 1:30
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
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There have been many, many film depictions of Hollywood over the course of the century, and this is a somewhat particular depiction of the journey to Hollywood and fame. Produced by actress Mira Sorvino, In the format behind a film screen of a documentary crew, and an eager and sometimes prying documentary director Andrew, we get a glimpse into the life of a young struggling actress… who happens to look a lot like Penelope Ann Miller. This was co-written by Laura Kirk and Nat Dewolf who star in the film and oddly enough, are unknown aspiring actors themselves. The character Lisa Picard is a glowing onscreen presence as we witness her aspirations and general optimism that spew onto everyone and also manages to become self-absorbed without her own knowledge towards the end of the film. She almost hit it big but was taken down after starring in a controversial sexy cereal commercial, and had fake nude pictures of her on the internet.

We see a hilarious website saying: "This is the real Lica Picard official site, and anything else on the internet is fake!" One of the more humorous moments involving her list of the different actresses she's often mistaken for, including her haunting resemblance to Penelope Ann Miller. The odd thing about the movie is she is a very bad actress as can be seen when she shows her unreleased monster picture "A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell," to the documentary crew, but never tells them the ending "In case it's ever released." But she manages to always keep her hopes up which somehow manages to reflect on everyone around her. Regardless, her friends are supportive including her gay friend Tate who is an aspiring actor himself, and releases a terrible "off off" Broadway play chronicling his journey through homophobia and gay bashing.

At one point we get to see his work as an extra in the soap opera "Guiding Light" where he unknowingly makes himself stand out among the cast through a hilarious over the top performance. The documentary director is played by Griffin Dunne who chronicles their journey to fame, and looks out onto Lisa and Tate with skepticism, yet never really realizes that he, himself, is attempting to achieve fame through his documentary. There are a few heartbreaking moments in the movie that really tend to make you feel like this is true to its material.  

We watch Lisa basically have an emotional break down when her small important part on a television movie starring Melissa Gilbert is cut, and when Tate is basically excluded from his play by Charlie Sheen and Spike Lee who plan to make it into a movie. Also, what makes this material refreshing is the short range of supporting characters that tend to ground the movie. Despite Lisa's constant let downs and failures, her boyfriend (Daniel London) remains relentlessly supportive of her. There's even a great shot as we see him watching Lisa's goofy unreleased television movie with such tenderness and love. The acting is hilarious with often dead pan reactions to many humorous and outlandish situations, one scene in particular when Lisa attempts to get into her teenage character for an Advil commercial and accidentally nearly misses the audition.

There's a hefty sense of irony to the film as where we see both characters of the film manage to strike some cord of fame and discover it may not be what it's cracked up to be. We see Lisa's boyfriend soon become insecure as if he never expected her to be famous and proposes, simply out of fright. There are many humorous cameos by some huge stars including Charlie Sheen, director Spike Lee, director Robert Rodriguez as a gangster who harasses Lisa in one segment, and a hilarious encounter with Sandra Bullock. Also, there are some interesting interviews with Carrie Fischer, Buck Henry, and Fischer Stevens as they discuss the trials and tribulations of acting and being typecast.

There are certain times in the movie when I felt detached from the film and story. There are ridiculously far-fetched plotlines in the movie to make it all seem so fictitious to the point of escaping logic, including the sexy cereal commercial and the site with the nude pictures, because if Lisa Picard is basically unknown, why would anyone care if they saw her naked? Also, the movie tends to take too much of a dramatic turn and basically brings the story down at the second half point ignoring its more comedic presence it established so well in the beginning. You ultimately get a realization about these two characters towards the end, and when you do manage to get an idea of what it will be, it's just ultimately unsatisfying and really depressing.

Despite some reservations with the story, this is an entertaining and very realistic depiction of the goal towards fame.



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