It's time to draw the line. From now on, any "movie about movies" enters the Crankydome with a presumed four-bomb rating stapled to its ass, and then we see if it sinks further from there. I am done -- you hear me? DONE! -- with Hollywood force-feeding the rest of the world movies focused exclusively on its own incestuous backlot. And "Simone" is the perfect vehicle to illustrate why.
They say write about what you know, and writer/director/producer/sous chef Andrew Niccol, who also wrote and produced "The Truman Show," knows Hollywood. Failing director Viktor Taransky's (Al Pacino) picture is imperiled when his whacked-out main star (Winona Ryder), stomps off in a huff (Winona had better to get used to these "whacked-out star" roles, by the way). He's subsequently accosted by terminally crazed programmer Hank (Elias Koteas), who slips him a mysterious disk drive before dying. Viktor plugs in the disk, discovers digital star "Simulation One" or "Simone" for short, and in about 20 seconds has figured out how to use his iMac to auto-replace Winona throughout his entire film.
Naturally, Simone's a runaway hit, and Viktor must pull increasingly wacky stunts to stave off the demands for her personal appearance. In the process, he's drawn closer to his power-brokering ex-wife (Catherine Keener) and profoundly creepy überdaughter (Evan Rachel Wood), who round out a cast of perhaps the most unsympathetic characters to ever grace the screen. While Niccols no doubt sees this as a filmmaker's struggle to light the path to artistic integrity, the rest of us see a good excuse for an 8.0 earthquake at Hollywood and Vine.
In the end, the brave new message is that Hollywood's output is fake and the people and press who eagerly consume it are mindless lemmings. Niccols intends this as a revelation, when it's actually Hollywood's core premise. Those who move to L.A. with their eyes open generally already understand that, so to save myself another one of these movies, let me open your eyes too. If you're a filmmaker aspiring to move to L.A., here's a little news flash: It's kind of fake. You've been warned. So when you get there, please do your best to make a film about something other than HOW FAKE IT ALL IS.
Ultimately, this movie was so bad that I snuck into the next theater to watch "Pluto Nash." Again.
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