"HOLLYWOOD DREAMS" by Kirk Honeycutt

In "HOLLYWOOD DREAMS," screenwriter-director Henry Jaglom has great fun with all the cliches about making it in show business, cliches bequeathed to us by "A Star Is Born," "All About Eve," "What Price Hollywood?",and the like: Girl fresh off the bus from Iowa - check. Accidental meeting with talent manager/producer - check. Romance with fast-rising young male actor that complicates everyone's life - check. All that matters is stardom - double check. Yes, few cliches are missing, but Jaglom loves to turn them on their heads and shake vigorously to see what falls out.

You won't believe what does fall out. I mean that literally - you won't believe it. But that doesn't mean these new twists and takes on Hollywood myths aren't guilty pleasures. Whether this movie of in-jokes and well-worn types will play outside the 50-mile radius of Sunset and Vine is hard to know. But Jaglom's name ensures theatrical engagements in upscale urban situations.

The movie's young actress, Margie Chizek, is played with great energy and wonderful passion by newcomer Tanna Frederick. How much you like this movie might depend on your reaction to this character. Perpetually high on drama and excitement but with a manic propensity for equally touching depressions, Margie could annoy a saint. Yet there is something about her flighty personality and coltish sexuality that truly compels your interest. And finally moves you deeply.

As the movie opens, she hasn't annoyed a saint but rather a roommate, who kicks her out of the one-bedroom flat she shares with several girls. Stumbling along the Santa Monica palisades with her suitcases, she runs into gay manager-producer Kaz (Jaglom veteran Zack Norman) walking his tiny dog. Kaz takes an immediate liking to this young woman. The next thing you know, he and his partner in life and business, Caesar (David Proval, who favors loud, unflattering shirts), have installed Margie in the guesthouse of their Hollywood Hills home.

Her new roommate is a hot, upcoming actor named Robin (Justin Kirk). Much of his success in Hollywood to this point stems from his ambiguous sexuality. In fact, the two gay managers strongly encourage his adoption of this persona. His sudden passion for Margie sends everyone into a panic: Will Robin come out of the closet and admit he is straight?

That's a pretty funny idea, and with Karen Black playing a character who fondles men and women and the two managers' wedding looming, it's little wonder Margie's Aunt Bee (Melissa Leo) is a bit confused when she arrives for a visit from Iowa. The household is a bit like a contemporary update on "You Can't Take It With You."

As with all Jaglom films, the actors are given plenty of space to do their thing. In several festival films this year, "Flannel Pajamas," "Puccini for a Beginners" and this one, Kirk has demonstrated an ability to project a self-assurance, almost a smugness, that disguises raging insecurities. For her part, Frederick plays a woman whose emotions lie just beneath the surface, but whose childhood wound lies so deeply buried that she herself is in denial. She goes for broke and pulls it off.

Norman and Proval make the comic most of their odd couple pairing. Black, Leo and a host of actors including Seymour Cassel, Eric Roberts, Jon Robin Baitz, Sally Kirkland and film critic/screenwriter F.X. Feeney put in brief though amusing cameos. Jaglom's editing is sharp, and Alan Caudillo's fluid mobile camera give the movie a good flow.