Few films in recent years have dealt with the Hollywood dream factory so wittily, sympathetically and incisively. In the early '30s, a hick from the sticks (Bridges) signs up with a bogus university to improve his talent at writing Zane Grey-style Western novels; stranded in LA, he takes a job as saddletramp extra for a film being made by the irascible Arkin. Rob Thompson's script gently nudges at the plagiarism, narcissism, corruption and rampant materialism infecting Tinseltown during its heyday, and allows sufficient space for the characters to grow, convince and command sympathy. A delicate balancing act is achieved as reality and fantasy are juxtaposed, and the performances are top-notch throughout (Bridges is particularly fine as the likeable innocent eager to make good). The jokes may not make you guffaw, but are carried out with a subtle, understated sense of timing and characterisation that will surely leave you with a quietly satisfied smile stretching from ear to ear.
Cast and crew
Richard B Shull