Thursday, September 9, 2010
HOLLYWOODLAND (2006). Director: Allen Coulter.
When actor George Reeves (Ben Affleck), who played Superman on a TV series, is found dead of a gunshot wound, private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) is hired by Reeves' mother -- who is convinced it was homicide and not suicide -- to investigate his death. The problem with Hollywoodland is that it doesn't respect Reeves even in death. There was certainly enough drama in the actor's off-screen life and death to make him the focus of the movie, but Hollywoodland makes Reeves a supporting character in his own story and makes Simo the main character. While this doesn't completely sink the movie -- largely because of Brody's excellent performance -- it does at times give it a kind of schizoid feeling. If only the filmmakers had trusted in the mythic aura of Reeves/Superman and the mystery over his demise instead of fashioning a somewhat stereotypical private dick melodrama with Reeves as the backdrop. That being said, Hollywoodland is well-acted and absorbing, but ultimately quite disappointing. Affleck offers an okay semi-impersonation of Reeves. Bob Hoskins as Eddie Mannix, Zach Mills as Simo's son, Evan, and Lois Smith as Reeves' mother, among others, are all on the money.
Verdict: Entertaining despite its all-too-obvious flaws. ***.