Hollywood does Hollywood. It does it all the time, and Hollywood loves it. What better way to reminisce about the golden years than to recreate them, over and over again? New generations become culturally aware of the past, while those living in the era can see the glitz and glamour one more time. But while the Academy seems to favor such films (and portrayals of real life characters), not every Hollywood on Hollywood film film is worthy of praise. Some are flat out bad.
Meet 'Jimmy Hollywood.' It falls in the "bad" category. It almost redefines it.
Jimmy Alto (Joe Pesci, in a horrible, horrible blonde wig) is a down and out "actor extraordinaire," trying to land that big role, ignoring any possibilities for bit parts or background acting. He believes he's a star, and nothing less, when in reality he's just a film fanatic, who wants to be a part of what he loves. His new scheme to reach stardom? A bus bench with his information on it, outside the gates of Bel Air. In addition to being an "actor," Jimmy's fed up with the disintegrating world around him, the theft, drug dealing, violence, all of it. When his car stereo gets stolen, Alto decides to take the law into his own hands, alongside his braindead friend William (Christian Slater), videotaping a stereo thief, abducting him, and turning in the evidence and perp to the cops, signed "The S.O.S." (named after David O. Selznick, the producer of 'Gone with the Wind'). Yes, that's a "D" in his name...
When the cops find more interest in stopping the S.O.S. than the criminals, Alto, who has taken the name "Jericho," begins to take the S.O.S. to greater and greater heights, drawing more publicity, public support, and ire from the police for being a vigilante. Playing the role of a lifetime, the role he can never get legitimately, Jimmy can't let go of his newfound fame. But both the law enforcers and criminals he's infuriating will do their best to put an end to the S.O.S., and Jimmy's "career."
The problems with 'Jimmy Hollywood' are too massive to ignore. It doesn't take a genius to know that living in or around Los Angeles costs a relative fortune. Hell, even two and a half hours away, where I live, the housing market has been affected by the over-inflated prices. Yet, we see Jimmy living in the middle of it all, with his live-in girlfriend (and hairdresser) Lorraine de la Peña (Victoria Abril), constantly dining out, buying new cars, and living somewhat large. The hair brained duo of Jimmy and William have all the money in the world for a camcorder and plenty of tapes. We never see Jimmy make a dollar in the entire film (up until he no longer needs money, going on the lam). Lorraine doesn't make that much, as we find out Jimmy sucked her bank account dry for his bus bench ad. How does anyone afford rent, utilities, expensive food, and new cars, on such a lifestyle?
Simply put, this is just one of the disconnects from reality found in this film. It strives to be a statement on the filth and decay of modern Los Angeles, with open drug dealing on the streets and graffiti everywhere. It feels manufactured to try to be relevant, important. It's also a tad overboard. Kidnapping, assault, and arson, all in the name of a car stereo? Talk about messed up priorities.
Running at a bloated two hours, 'Jimmy Hollywood' is over a half-hour too long for its own good, beating the point into our heads, and into the ground. We get a moral tale, not only of fighting back against crime, but one showing how putting the law into one's own hands is dangerous and foolish. We get the message that Jimmy is as bad as those he fights, with his acts of kidnapping and arson, to name a few of his misdeeds. But it feels like the film wants to hammer these messages home too often, repeatedly, so that we get the point. We get. The point.
Pesci is utterly painful in the titular role, and it doesn't help that the character is written in such an unlikable manner. Slater? I have yet to see him be anything but awful, so his performance is in line with the rest of his work at the very least. It really doesn't help that his character is possibly the most underdeveloped second lead ever. Beyond them, the only actor getting any real time is Abril, who may give the best performance in the film, providing a nice and average portrayal that may be just a tad over the top.
The scary part of all this? The man behind the wheel. The problems with this film could be more forgivable if it were a rank rookie behind the pen or in the chair, but this film was written and directed by Barry Levinson (!!), who adapted 'Sleepers' from its source novel, and co-wrote 'High Anxiety,' as well as directed the severely underrated 'Wag the Dog,' alongside classics 'The Natural,' 'Good Morning, Vietnam,' and 'Rain Man,' which won him an Academy Award. How can anyone fall from grace so damn fast, being behind the wheel of some of the greats, to something so unbelievable and ridiculous? (Editor's Note: He had the equally
No positive words will be uttered in this section of the review. None. The string of negative words found within are not the result of a thesaurus, as there aren't too many suggestions to replace "suck-tastic." That's right. The AVC MPEG-4 (1080p, 1.85:1) encode provided 'Jimmy Hollywood' is the very definition of the term. Not even Pesci's awful hair or Slater's awful "acting" can show up this abysmal display.
Having never seen the film before this viewing, I can't begin to guess if the problems with the appearance in the film are longstanding or newly formulated. I can only say I felt like I just wasted two hours worth of precious DLP burn time. It isn't the random dirt speckles that populate the film from start to finish. It isn't the random changes in colors, contrast, and detail every so often. It wasn't even the weak clarity, so much. The killer here is that I felt like I was watching an unfinished version of 'A Scanner Darkly,' with the whole "rotoscoped" appearance creating light blurs and smudges. Arms would lose their solidarity, lips would grow and shrink, moving like ocean waves, and the entire picture looked blotchy far too often, moving nonstop. I've never had "beer goggles," but I can probably relate to everyone who has by saying this is the exact opposite effect: it makes everything look uglier.
In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
That may be a saying that attributes itself more to the video qualities of a Blu-ray release, but combine a mediocre film with bad video and virtually no extras, and the audio can't help but be the best part of the disc. Lionsgate gives 'Jimmy Hollywood' a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that just doesn't get its feet off the ground...ever. Dialogue is clear, but it never strays from the front channels, and never has any real spikes in volume, no matter how quiet or intense it may get. But dialogue isn't alone in middling around with no lows or highs, as range is stuck in the middle as well, with no real standout moments to put a sound system to work. The most difficult scene for the speakers may have been the opener, and it didn't fare too well, as the soundtrack easily overpowers dialogue. Crowded rooms never find noise in the rears, as soundtrack elements are around 99% of the surround activity. Throw in a blip or two, and you have yourself a track that just is there. Nothing more, nothing less.
The sole "extra" is entitled "Also from Lionsgate." Basically, it's the same Blu-ray catalog title trailer that is played before the menu.
'Jimmy Hollywood' is painful, just painful. Movies about the film industry are usually so damn enjoyable for me, but this was akin to surgery by butter knife. Pesci proves that he's not leading-man material (as if that weren't obvious), while Slater proves he's not even craft services material. This disc has an average audio track, and an absolutely terrible transfer, alongside virtually no extras, and you have a losing combination. S.O.S. - save our streets. S.Y.M. - save your money. One to avoid.