Boxoffice Magazine : REVIEWS

The pitch of the performance that flaming redhead Tanna Frederick gives in writer/director Henry Jaglom's Hollywood Dreams is something akin to a shriek. This is seldom a good thing, but the wily actress pulls it off to stunning effect. Frederick plays Margie Chizek, a highly strung, horribly irritating young girl not more than a year off the bus from Iowa in pursuit of the traditional Hollywood dreams-fame, fortune and romance. Mostly, she eats Ho Hos and Oreos-but never swallows: "That way you get the satisfaction but not the calories." This is Margie's logic regarding all things, and thus she's a desperate, unemployed actress who finds herself homeless when her many roommates can no longer deal with her manic antics.

Roaming the streets of Santa Monica, Margie engages in a number of comically tragic events (including getting cast in a junior-high class project from which she is fired) that Frederick plays with the aplomb of Bette Davis on crack. It's funny but so terribly true-and thus so very, very sad. Then, as sometimes happens in Hollywood, a producer plucks the spunky redhead from the doorstep of obscurity, and soon Margie's living in the Hills with a couple of gay producers and a young up-and-coming actor/director Robin (Justin Kirk, Puccini for Beginners), whose career they are shaping. In order to fit in, Robin is pretending to also be gay, so, when Margie falls in love with him, Robin's secret straightness is in danger of being revealed. Add to that a deep secret lurking in Margie's family history that belies her bravado, and it's not long before things get messy.

If this all sounds like too much, it is, but so were all of those great Hollywood Dream films of the '30s and '40s. From A Star Is Born to All About Eve, they all pegged the melodrama meter firmly in the red. It worked for them, and it works for Hollywood Dreams, even with Jaglom's quirky shooting style. And the players are all down for the exercise. It's a big movie making drama on a small scale.

Tim Cogshell - For the latest reviews and previews, visit www.boxoffice.com