Judge Patrick Bromley would tell you to see this movie, but you probably already have—dozens of times, under several different names.
No script, no budget, no film—no problem!
What is it about the movies-about-moviemaking genre that rubs me the wrong way? It's not that they're inherently bad, or that I don't like them. There's been more than a few good ones, in fact: Richard Rush's The Stunt Man, Christopher Guest's The Big Picture, or Tom DiCillo's beatnik howl Living in Oblivion come to mind. Even the recent (and barely released) The Last Shot came up with a few sharp laughs. I guess my biggest problem with the genre is that it seems kind of lazy—it takes that old "write what you know" maxim to another level of obviousness, and their built-in self-reflexivity passes for clever too often.
David M. Rosenthal's See This Movie, one of the more recent entries in the movie-about-moviemaking genre, features Saturday Night Live cast member Seth Meyers as Jake Barrymore, a recent graduate of one of those three-day film schools and a shameless self-promoter. He and a fellow "graduate," a put-upon would-be producer played by John Cho (In Good Company, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle), talk their way into the Montreal Film Festival and enter a movie that they haven't yet written or shot; that the festival is being programmed by Jake's ex-girlfriend (Jessalyn Gilsig, Nip/Tuck), of course, has nothing to do with his determination to get in and get noticed. Now, Jake's just got to cast, write, shoot, and edit his movie in a couple of days, plus launch a career and get his girlfriend back. Ah, the world of independent filmmaking.
The DVD comes courtesy of Ardustry, who've done a fine job with it. The shot-on-video presentation comes letterboxed in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1; it looks and sounds just as it's meant to, and that's ok. Because of the wanna-be Guffman approach to the movie (Rosenthal even steals a member of Christopher Guest's repertory company, Jim Piddock of Best in Showand A Mighty Wind, as a burnt-out filmmaker turned burnt-out teacher), one would expect a number of deleted scenes or improvised outtakes in the extras department. Not so much. There's a brief collection of excised material that's pretty disappointingly unfunny given Meyers' participation, and a couple of bonus trailers. That's it as far as the DVD is concerned.
Speaking of Seth Meyers, he proves a couple of things here. First, that he has a fairly limited range—he's basically doing an exaggerated version of his smarmy, too-stupid-to-be-this-cocky SNLpersona here—and second, that he's funnier than that show would suggest. And, though there's not much story and the jokes are pretty obvious, there are a couple of bright spots; a scene in which Barrymore confronts who he believes to be director Wim Wenders (but is actually a befuddled Paul Weitz, director of About a Boy and In Good Company, in an amusing cameo), goes on too long but is funnier than it has a right to be. No, the biggest problem with See This Movie isn't that it's lazy; actually, I liked the very do-it-yourself approach that the filmmakers and cast took to make it. The biggest problem with the film is that it's toothless. There's nothing said about independent filmmaking that hasn't been said before in better, smarter movies.
In fact, most of the movie's humor isn't even about filmmaking. Take, for example, of the running jokes: Jake's lead actress, Samantha (Jessica Paré, Lost and Delirious), isn't really an actress at all. She's an ecstasy dealer. We know it and Jake doesn't, so scene after scene we giggle because we know something that another character doesn't. That's the joke. To make matters worse, we're subjected to the obligatory scene (obligatory because ecstasy factors into the plot, meaning this sequence is inevitable) in which Jake accidentally ingests some "E" and becomes all touchy-feely during shooting. Sadly, this same sequence didn't even work when Martin Lawrence did it in Bad Boys II, and that guy can make anything funny! I mean, did you see Big Momma's House 2? How did they do that? I wasn't sure anything could be funnier than the first Big Momma's House, but leave it to M.L. to prove me wrong! I wouldn't mind seeing a Big Momma's House 3, or any other series of movie where M.L. dresses up like a lady and/or wears a fat suit! He doesn't have to play a cop in a fat suit. What about a frustrated NBA coach that coaches a little kids' team in a fat suit? Or a trash-talking loudmouth that gets transported back to medieval times in a fat suit? Or a cop! IN A FAT SUIT!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Ardustry Home Entertainment
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