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HOLLYWOODLAND
U.S. Release Date: September 8, 2006
Distributor: Focus Features
Director: Allen Coulter
Producer: J. Miles Dale (executive), Glenn Williamson
Composer: Marcelo Zarvos
Cast: Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins
Running Time: 2 hours and 6 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (language, some violence and sexual content)

Plodding Period Drama Bogged Down in Depravity
by Scott Holleran

Not even the curiosity of Ben Affleck as actor George Reeves saves the bleak Hollywoodland from its sloppy trappings—and this subscriber to L.A. Confidential was ready for its noirish style.

The late Fifties look is right and that is about it. An hour into this affair concerning Reeves' death and a subsequent investigation into Hollywood's seedy side, it is obvious this is merely another monotonous movie with characters that aren't worth a stick of chewing gum, led by spindly Adrien Brody as the skuzziest detective west of the Mississippi.

With a sneering disposition (except for those hurt puppydog eyes), Brody's sleazebag is willing to do anything for a job. On a lark, he hustles Reeves' grieving mother for an assignment to find out what happened to TV's Superman, who was found splattered all over his upstairs bedroom walls in 1959. For the next two hours, Brody goes from cynic to crusader and back as he unravels the mystery.

In relatively seamless flashbacks, the genial Reeves (Affleck) works his way into celebrity photographs and auditions and he winds up typecast and disillusioned as Superman. Along the way, he catches the eye of a studio executive's wife (Diane Lane). With Bob Hoskins as the evil businessman, a shrill hussy and piles of horrid dialog, Hollywoodland is well populated with clichés. Brody even has an ex-wife and a young son who looks up to the Man of Steel.

Therein lies the seed for the predictable tripe that heroes have feet of clay, done for the umpteenth time and applied here like clumpy paste. The problem—one of many—is that Affleck's Reeves is never really alive, let alone heroic. There's no there there. He clenches his teeth and puts us on, and Lane, whose steering wheel meltdown is something almost out of Mommie Dearest, joins him. Affleck and Lane have zero chemistry.

Brody's slimeball gumshoe's realization that people are corrupt is supposed to come through loud and clear via Reeves' downfall, which may have occurred by his own hand or at the hands of movie studio thugs or in an accident with the most putrid person in Hollywood, a guttersnipe named Lenore Lemmon (over the top Robin Tunney).

It is that kind of movie, repeatedly pounding the idea that man is more smarmy than super, a truly tedious thesis on screen. The movie's title refers to the famous sign's original term, which if memory serves was created to sell real estate—a fact not in evidence here—and certainly Hollywood has its losers and wannabes, but that doesn't make watching them drown in slow motion of particular interest.

There must be more to an actor who appeared in From Here to Eternity and Gone with the Wind but it's not on display in this long, slovenly swipe at moviemaking and mankind, which has Lane's lonely wife spewing a line about smoke rings and female genitalia.

For the above reason and several others, Hollywoodland is an anti-heroic letdown.


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