Documentarian Andrew (director Griffin Dunne, "Practical Magic") hopes to catch a star on the rise and ascend on that person's coattails in "Lisa Picard Is Famous."
'Famous has the same root as famished - it's all about hunger,' observes Buck Henry as one of the talking head interviews Andrew/Dunne begins his film with. Carrie Fisher describes the tenuous nature of fame, having watched her parents' stars fade, while proudly admitting that the terrier in her lap was indeed the dog in "There's Something About Mary."
Lisa Picard (cowriter Laura Kirk) is on the cusp, with a 'small but significant' role in "A Phone Call for Help," an upcoming TV movie starring Melissa Gilbert and past notoriety for a sexy Chex commercial that resulted in doctored nude photos traversing the Internet. Lisa insists that Andrew include her best buddy Tate Kelley (cowriter Nat DeWolf) in his coverage and we follow her to his minuscule NYC walkup where she'll help him practice interviewing for an agent. Tate's developing an off, off, off Broadway one man play about homophobia and a romantic breakup.
This documentary is almost a reenactment of good sport Laura Kirk's real life experiences, having come to fruition when she realized how silly her demo reel, which consisted of a Dr. Pepper commercial, reenactment (used in this film) and ultra low budget Japanese sci-fi flick, was. The tiny moments made huge by aspiring actors are affectionately poked at by Kirk, DeWolf and Dunne, as when the terribly earnest Lisa Picard sums up her controversial commercial by stating 'We worked really hard to tell a story and if the director's cut could be seen this would be a non-issue.' Real life moments, such as when a bit part player reels off his 'Hercules' credits, are interspersed with the make believe. Cameos are clever, such as when Lisa and Tate accost Sandra Bullock in the post office or when Charlie Sheen and Spike Lee discuss adapting Tate's awful play for the big screen.
Kirk is terrific as Lisa, whose friendship with Tate busts up when she loses her pecking order slightly above him, and who suffers one humiliation after another through the course of the film. DeWolf is also good as the humbler Tate who inexplicably goes farther than his mentor, before tumbling back down to earth with her. Daniel London is notable as Lisa's puppy dog of a boyfriend who seems to exist only to cater to and admire his self-absorbed woman.
While the script makes many astute observations and the performers are game, "Lisa Picard Is Famous" comes across as slight as the marginal characters it portrays. Too much time is given over to Tate's character and his and Lisa's reflections on the rift in their friendship. The finale lacks punch, giving us a shopworn comment on the ill effects of media intrusion on ordinary lives.
"Lisa Picard Is Famous" shows a lot of smarts, but would have been better served as a live action short.
Robin did not see this film.
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