Hollywood Lives, Hollywood Lies

Barry Levinson takes a loopy look at the realities of Tinsel Town

Their relationship is edited by Jay Rabinowitz with jump cuts and fades to suggest that the two spend entire days endlessly talking about nothing. But despite this, the friendship isn't really probed. Nor is William's illness. It isn't clear what he's suffering from, how he got that way, or why he needs MRI exams. Lorraine's character is developed even less, being limited to that of the put-upon love interest. Abril, though, is endearing and lovely in her American film debut, and Slater is gentle and goofy as the scruffy sidekick. Pesci is, as usual, insinuating, keen and razor-sharp, but again, as with The Public Eye and The Super, he fails to find a leading role that fits his distinct persona.

Levinson would have been better served if he had kept Jimmy raging, either as a pathetically struggling actor thrilled that the police are coming to question him because that will give him a chance to try out a new character, or as a bizarre Guardian Angel on a fervid mission of mercy in Hollywood -- the real Hollywood, not Hollywood's movie version of itself. What Levinson ends up with is a little of both, two sides that nearly cancel each other out. But when a character actor like Pesci plays a character like Jimmy, one who asks his girlfriend if, as a hood, he's as sympathetic as Brando was in On the Waterfront, then the answer, both on the screen and in the audience, has to be yes. Especially at the killer ending, when Levinson brings on a real-life movie star to offer his take on things. And it ain't Robin Williams.

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