Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, An
Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 8.5 Beans
ometimes art imitates life, or life imitates art. As we have seen with current events, the premises behind "Primary Colors" and "Wag the Dog" may not be so far-fetched. The producers behind the wretched and wretchedly titled "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn" probably thought they had a P.R. coup when life imitated their film. But in this case, that wasn't a good thing.
As some of you may know, when a director or writer or whomever thinks their movies are so awful that they don't want credit for it, they use the pseudonym "Alan Smithee". So if you see a movie directed by Alan Smithee you know it's going to suck big time. Well, in the case of "AASFBHB", director Arthur Hiller was so appalled with the botched final cut by the producers that, yes, he removed his name. So "AASFBHB" is ACTUALLY directed by Alan Smithee. Could you die? The film itself is about a director who hates the film he directed so much that he does not want credit for it, but the director's REAL name is Alan Smithee, so what on earth can he do? Ha ha ha.
Would it surpise you if I told you the screenwriter for this mess was none other than Joe Ezsterhas? It wouldn't? Well, needless to say, Big Joe kept his name in the credits. Lucky us.
Okay, on to the movie. "AASFBHB" stars Eric Idle as Alan Smithee who has directed a mega-budget summer flick called "Trio" starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sylvester Stallone, and Jackie Chan. Idle is so appalled by the movie that he steals the print and disappears. Will the producers Ryan O'Neal and Richard Jeni find Idle and get the movie back to foist on the public? Will Idle get to burn it?
How bad is "AASFBHB"? Well, aside from "Spice World", it is probably the most incompetent. I could turn on my camcorder and film my cats barfing up hairballs and it would be more entertaining. The movie is filmed in a pseudo-documentary style with all of the characters talking to the screen and relating the whole story. Every scene is about a 1-2 minute mini-soliloquy with a bad punchline at the end. O'Neal at one point tells a little bit of plot while receiving oral sex. There is a really nauseating incest reference complete with father-daughter open-mouth kissing. Non-actor rappers Coolio and Chuck D. play the Brothers Brothers, hip new directors who become Idle's allies, their hit films are "You Ain't No Brother" and "Word Up, Bitch!"
It really isn't the people who can't act that sink this movie (Coolio, Chuck D., and even a cameo by Joe Ezsterhas himself), it's the ones who can that cause the most pain. "Trio" stars Goldberg, Stallone and Chan actually show up and play themselves, sort of. Let's put it this way, Stallone is playing Stallone as written by Ezsterhas. So is it Stallone, or the un-Stallone? It's Goldberg playing Goldberg as filtered through a bad screenwriters image of Goldberg, so it's really not Goldberg. See? No matter, they can't even play themselves whether or not it really is themselves.
This film is just so much nothingness. It would have been better had it been just told in a linear fashion with action and confrontations. But as it is, it's just a bunch of hammy actors yelling at the audience about what's going on, trying to drum up excitement that isn't there.
I didn't even mention the weird sound effects that include some sort of bizarre mantra to Michael Ovitz that comes and goes on the soundtrack at random. The editing is also pathetic, if you look at the backgrounds behind some of the talking actors, you'll notice the bad jump-cutting. There is even looping over the dialogue that doesn't even pretend to match the actors' lips.
Arthur Hiller is the former President of the Motion Picture Academy and the Director's Guild and I wonder what kind of drugs Hiller was on to be talked into this crap by Eszterhas. No matter, this flick was barely released and received some of the most scathing reviews so far this year, so I think there aren't many more nails that can by driven into Ezsterhas's coffin.
If you rent "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn" you will get exactly what you expect from an Alan Smithee Film. I know I did.
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