Desperation Boulevard (1998) Poster

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A very funny, yet very heartfelt take on fame
hippiedj5 January 2003
"I'm not an angel, but I play one on TV"

Where has this little gem of a film been hiding since 1998? To see Burt Ward, Erin Moran, Dana Plato, and Ken Osmond playing cards and discussing infomercials they've done is quite a hoot(even the director's cuts of those -- "It's colon cleanser...just SPRINKLE it!"), and that scene alone is worth the price of seeing this film! Ah, when the stars have to come down from the hill and have to live with the rest of's also eerie that this was one of Plato's last appearances in a film with a title as Desperation Boulevard, but there's a loving "In Memory Of" for her at the end credits. I was rather stunned to see later in David Spade's "Dickie Roberts" film the card-playing scene was totally copied from this film.

While the Comedy Central TV show STRIP MALL with Julie Brown showed a more zany take on the life of a has-been former child actor, her character was a bit self-centered (though I worship Ms. Brown of course!). In Desperation Boulevard, Judy Tenuta's character of Joan, a has-been former child actor is quite different in the fact that you really feel for her plight, and she is actually a likable gal. I was amazed to see Tenuta showing quite a bit of sincerity in her role, which gave this film a bit of reality in the midst of silly stunts she tried to get back in the public eye once again. At times wacky, then charming, there's a nice balance that will have you smiling even if you're not laughing out loud.

Michael Lerner is fine as the oblivious agent, and Will Shriner shows some compassion as Joan's former love. There are fun appearances by Burt Ward, Erin Moran, Dana Plato, Ken Osmond, Weird Al Yankovic, Emo Philips, Rhonda Shear, and Melanie Hutsell that work well with the story instead of just being a "spot the pseudo-celebrity" type of thing. I found myself laughing hard when Erin Moran had such a look of glee on her face for taking credit for a liquor store robbery that Tenuta tried to pull off! The scenes from the girl scout horror film were an absolute stitch as well: "She earned her merit badge in TERROR!"

Even though the "gift of the magi" ending is a bit tidied up, it's still satisfying and and the hired stalker gives a boost to any scene he just happens to be standing in! There's a lot of heartfelt charm to this film as well as the comedy, and it was interesting to see the mild level of language instead of trying for a hard "R-rated" theme. It has just enough to make it pleasing to adults.

I've always been a fan of Judy Tenuta, and seeing her play more than a wacky gal is really a nice surprise. Desperation Boulevard is a pleasant low-budget escape from a sea of big-budget wastes of time. This one is definitely worth your while if you appreciate a good take on fame and selflessness. Not since Christopher Guest's THE BIG PICTURE have I enjoyed such a take on Hollywood.

Be sure to stick through the end credits to see some outtakes and a tap-dancing Anne Frank play! It has to be seen to be believed!
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You bet we're desperate!
Gorgar26 June 2002
Funny 'lil flicker 'bout an ex-child star trying to get back on top. Very good performance by Judy Tenuta and hilarious cameos by Emo(The original Mr. Funny) Philips and Emmy(The Volcano!)Collins.
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Hysterical Take on Fame
gstew6225 March 2003
DESPERATION BOULEVARD is a riot. Judy Tenuta is, naturally, very funny, but she actually shows some subtlety in her acting as well, which is a nice change of pace. The rest of the cast does a great job with good, funny material and the cameos are killer. Burt Ward, Dana Plato, and especially Erin Moran have a field-day lampooning themselves, and their bits are short but memorable. Director Greg Glienna uses small moments to make a bigger over-all impression, like a killer Girl Scout horror movie scene, or former child stars playing poker together, or even a particularly hysterical, yet tiny, bit with a waiter whom Judy's desperate character thinks is an autograph seeker. Their facial expressions alone induce out-loud laughs. Moments like these make up a movie that should be seen by everyone who enjoys well-nuanced and intelligent comedy.
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Interesting SMall FIlm
arfdawg-128 February 2023
This is a small low budget movie about a child star who is no longer in the spotlight trying to get it back. Filled with cameos of other chid stars -- including a couple who killed themselves.

Judy -- who was a strange standup comic and never admitted being married to Emo Philips -- was actually a pretty deent actress.

The other reviews here say this movie is hilarious. It isn't. And I don't think it's meant to be. It's more of a rather straighforward heartfelt film with Judy putting in a believeable performance.

She plays a few different personas on her way back to the top. Most of the scenes are humorous but the film does get bogged down by repetitiveness of the plot.
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This film is hilarious! You'll love it!
E-128 March 1999
DESPERATION BOULEVARD is a classic-style comedy, like a few masters made in the old days: not one based on a gimmicky, unbelievable premise (with gags to match), but rather one that is completely human and believable and yet has one marvelously constructed, laugh-out-loud gag sequence after another. Judy Tenuta does a great acting job, wonderfully touching and very funny, and the phenomenal Michael Lerner gives his juiciest performance since BARTON FINK.
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