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Movie Review - Hollywood Dreams

May 13th, 2007

Written and directed by Henry Jaglom, Hollywood Dreams tells the story of Margie Chizek, played by Tanna Frederick, a woman who just arrived in Hollywood from a small town in Iowa with dreams of making it big. After getting thrown out of the apartment she was staying in, Margie stumbles into opportunity and is invited to stay at the guest home of two movie producers who offer to help her career. There she meets an up-and-coming actor, played by Justin Kirk.

I had trouble getting into this movie for a number of reasons, including the cliché-ridden script. The lead character is a small town girl, who just arrived in the big city. She's looking to make it big but can't catch a break, until she has an accidental meeting with a Hollywood producer. She meets someone who could be Mr. Right, but she's forced to choose between the man and her dreams. I guess you could call the movie an homage to others that have tread over this territory. However, when you do an homage you must do something fresh with it, and I didn't feel that here.

Another problem I had was with the lead character. Margie Chizek is an aspiring actress, but she's bad. Really, really bad. The movie starts with her doing an audition tape where she has a hysterical fit and starts crying. This was done for comedic affect, but instead of being bad in a funny way, she was just irritating. And for this to be the first impression the movie gives was a mistake in my opinion. Whenever she went into one of these fits it grated on my nerves and made it (nearly) impossible to feel any empathy with her character. That was a real barrier for me to enjoy the movie. (This is not a complaint against Tanna Frederick, who plays the role well; I just didn't like the character.)

On the other hand, the second part of the story was a little more intriguing. Justin Kirk plays Robin, the hot young actor, who also lives in the guesthouse of the two movie producers. The big twist is, he's straight but pretends to be gay in order to advance his career. I did like some of the reverse-closet aspect of the movie, but even here the execution was mixed.

In the end there was not enough here that was fresh, and too many inside jokes for the movie to work with a wide audience. However, with Henry Jaglom's name attached to it, it should find an audience with art house crowds.

Hollywood Dreams opens this Friday in three theaters.

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