A winded, wan and somewhat already-played-out comedy about taking your shot in show business, “Hollyweird” has two things halfway going for it.
It has a point of view, and there’s a neat third act twist. If directing/co-writing husband and wife Edwin and Jaime Marie Porres had known what to run with, they might have made something out of it.
Stevie (Douglas Spain) is a broke LA waiter/actor desperate for his big break. He thinks it could be playing the heavy in this new cop thriller, “Hollyweird.”
But his African American agent Alice (Numa Perrier,writer, director and star of “Jezebel”) thinks he’s “not Latino enough.” He doesn’t seem tough enough to play a gangster, despite doing his stocking-capped, slouching/whispered “Yo, ese” act on her and everybody he waits on at the restaurant.
He has to go behind Alice’s back to even sneak an audition.
Alejandro (Michael J. Knowles) has hitchhiked his way into LA, and is literally just standing on the street when a producer “discovers” him and we discover how much the guy sounds like Pacino doing Tony Montana in “Scarface.” Cuban stranger with no acting credits, the job is YOURS!
“Joo chitting me?”
He’s “Cuban, REAL raw” the producer (Bill Posey) crows to the money guy. “It’s like he just SWAM over here!”
He’s the white and black film producers’ idea of “Latino” enough, a point this comedy should have pounded like a pneumatic hammer.
Hitting on a publicist (Deborah Dir) at “an industry party” that the producer of the film is throwing, Alejandro finds himself getting a makeover and a little staged paparazzi moment, paired up with a willing and notorious starlet. He’s a star before he’s ever done a thing…other than imitate Al Pacino.
Everything Stevie craves Alejandro has fall into his lap. Fancy clothes, a Dodge Challenger, Internet notoriety and a “breakout” role are his for the taking.
Stevie? He’s fending off the be-my-friend overtures of his Hollywood intern neighbor, Tabby (Madison Dewberry) and struggling in acting class.
“How are you feeling?” the teacher wants to know.
“Was BRANDO ‘Ok?’ Was STREI-sand? I don’t SEE you!”
That’s acting class speak for “you’re not registering,” moving the needle, getting anybody’s attention. And that line doesn’t just fit the character, it’s a mark against the movie, too.
There’s great comic possibility in this set-up, and Knowles, deep into the whole “Say ‘allo to my lil’FRIEND” Pacino riff, tries to take us there. But virtually no scenes and no other characters have the same comic energy to them. And remember, Knowles is just doing a broad impersonation of another actor’s iconic role.
Drab “auditions,” dull “fights” on the set, tired situations — car trouble, losing jobs, losing agents, getting evicted — the whole movie is built on exhausted “making it in showbiz” tropes.
The mostly-bit players (save the screen veteran Perrier, and she has only a single scene) aren’t experienced or charismatic enough to make something out of a nothing-that-funny script. Whole rooms full of people auditioning actors, a whole set of filmmaking character “types,” not one of them registers or is given a single funny thing to say or play.
But James Tang, playing a landlord so impatient he interrupts/finishes every one of Steve’s litany of excuses for why the rent is late and when he’ll be able to pay for him, gives “Hollyweird” the rapid pace and testy edge it needed to get by.
And he, too, has only a single scene.
MPA Rating: unrated, some profanity, adult situations
Cast: Douglas Spain, Deborah Dir, Michael J. Knowles and Madison Dewberry
Credits: Directed by Edwin Porres, script by Edwin Porres, Jaime Marie Porres. An Artists Rights release.
Running time: 1:26