A middle-aged German man with no particular talents can fly to the U.S. and become an international celebrity by amputating his limbs
Short Cut to Hollywood's very unusual premise is that a middle-aged German man with no particular talents can fly to the U.S. and become international celebrity "John F Salinger" on the basis of his willingness to have his limbs amputated and eventually commit suicide on-camera. This is nonsense, of course, but the clichéd assumptions about American media spectacles which inform the concept are what drive the film.
Short Cut critiques the American television dream machine by making thinly veiled references to American Idol – the John F Salinger Show's host is a Ryan Seacrest look-a-like, and the Salinger team negotiates with television producer "Paula Martini," who in one scene sits next to an executive wearing a kippah, providing both a reference to the Jewish-control-of-Hollywood myth and a curious opportunity for Salinger to offend – do directors Stahlberg and Mittermeier perhaps see themselves as exorcising German ghosts by having Salinger invoke Hitler?
Short Cut doesn't comfortably commit to a genre – at times it seems a buddy picture, depicting the relationship of three failed middle-aged men, but there is very little focus on Salinger's friends; it comments on the German fascination with the vapid wasteland of American television, but there's no real depth to the critique; it wants to be a road picture, but repetitive scenes of a camper tooling down the highway and shots of frenetic hotel room sex don't really suffice for this. Brief shots of gore may be intended to lend gravity to the piece, but for me only served to increase the queasiness of a viewer already uncomfortable with the film's weaknesses.
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