What Just Happened (7/10)
by Tony Medley
As recent movies, like the
execrable “Righteous Kill” and his inept performance in “The Good
Shepherd” (2006), make abundantly clear, Robert DeNiro’s day as a
dramatic lead are history. But he still has a future in comedy, as his
work in such disparate films as The Fockers films and the Analyze films
Here he continues down the
comedy road as Ben, a harried Hollywood film producer with big problems.
Ben’s most difficult problem, however, is
the brightest light in the picture, a drug-addled, over-the-top British
director, Jeremy Brunell (Michael Wincott),
that Ben can’t control. He’s got a film just finished production that
Jeremy wants to end one way, with Sean Penn and his dog dead, and a
boss, Lou Tarnow (Catherine Keener), who demands that the dog not be
shot. Then his current film has a problem with unreasonable, egotistic
star Bruce Willis, playing himself, who is overweight and wearing a
beard that Ben wants shaven, much to Bruce’s disagreement. Willis’
feckless agent, Dick Bell (John Turturro), isn’t much help.
To top it all off, he’s got
problems with his breakup with his second wife, Kelly (Robin Wright
Penn), who doesn’t want much of him, to his great consternation. And, if
that’s not enough, his friend, Scott Solomon (Stanley Tucci), is
sleeping with Kelly and shows not the slightest bit of remorse.
Barry Levinson has ably
directed the conversion of Art Lipson’s autobiography of his years as a
Hollywood Producer, from Lipson’s script, into a moderately entertaining
Hollywood commentary. Satires by Hollywood about Hollywood generally are
not too popular with the viewing public, but I like them, and this one
is good enough (although not “Singin’ in the Rain”), mainly because of
the performances of DeNiro, Wincott, and Keener, who is good enough for
some kind of award consideration.
One thing I deplore,
however, is listing Penn as the second lead. His role is little more
than a cameo, as is Willis’. They couldn’t have been on the set more
than a couple of days each, if that.