After selling the rights of his book to a movie production company, a writer finds himself fighting the many egos and varying views around him.After selling the rights of his book to a movie production company, a writer finds himself fighting the many egos and varying views around him.After selling the rights of his book to a movie production company, a writer finds himself fighting the many egos and varying views around him.
The film has some genuine strengths. The cast is an eclectic bunch of old stars, new faces, and genial nobodies. Alda and Michael Caine basically play themselves and do a very good job. Michelle Pfeiffer is not only beautiful as hell, but she also gives a strong early performance as the lead actress. Bob Hoskins' character is well-written, but he plays the man in too shrill of a manner to be taken seriously. His screenwriter character has some wonderful points to make about using flattery to get the attention of the actors and director if you want them to change what they are doing. But he is just so hyper that you cringe whenever you hear his voice. Saul Rubinek is good as the hotshot, pompous young director who is only out to show the audience three things: People defying authority, destruction of property, and people taking off their clothing. That's what industry research shows that younger audiences want, he informs Alda more than once.
There are other problems besides the annoying Hoskins character. I'm sure it would seem desirable for an icon like Lillian Gish to be included in just about any film at that time. However, her character and scenes are just not needed and end up being more of a distraction than anything else. Alda and his girlfriend have about the same argument at least half a dozen times. Another scene looks like it will give a huge laugh payoff, but it falls flat. In it, a group of stunt men are in a bar with some of the local re-creators of the Battle of Cowpens who will also be used as extras in the film. The stunt men are trying to tell the amateurs how to fall in the battle scene. One of the stunt men breaks out one of those harnesses that people use to get pulled backwards through doorways in bar fight scenes. And you think you are going to see one of the amateurs get unknowingly hooked up to it and taken for the ride of his life. But alas, they apparently thought it would be funnier for the guy just to fall down on his back like an idiot. Another missed opportunity! 5 of 10 stars.
- Nov 5, 2008