Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Author(s): Ben Miller
Location: Canyon, Texas


Directed by Paul Weitz
Written by Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Produced by Rodney M. Liber & Andrew Miano & Paul Weitz

Principal Cast:

Vince Vaughn as Chris Liddy
Maggie Smith as Nancy Hill
Thora Birch as Judy Buckhalter
Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah Newman
Sydney Pollack as John Bynes
Ian Holm as Benjamin Louis

Tagline: “Turning death into an entertaining 120 minutes”

Synopsis: Chris Liddy works for a movie studio where he licenses and develops movies. But not just any movies, movies based on celebrities, meant to bring in big money and win awards. When a celebrity dies, he has hours to get the rights and iron out the idea to cash in on the fleeting press coverage. He has been doing well, but the films aren’t winning like they should be and the box office is disappointing. Chris is out of ideas of what to do. Luckily his assistant, Judy Buckhalter, knows just what to do. Before letting him in on her plan, she blackmails him into getting her into the movie. After signing a one-film contract, Judy gives the idea of finding out what celebrities are on the brink of death and begin the film production before the fact, even scheduling the release date soon after their death to capitalize on the free publicity. Chris loves the idea and gets to work on it. He finds that a formerly drug-addicted musician, Nancy Hill, has only six months to live and begins to shadow her. In his research, he discovers that not only does Nancy’s life seem boring and uneventful, but she led a normal celebrity life and her drug-use lasted all of three weeks. Despite it all, Chris gets it all together for a sure-fire Oscar-winner. As production starts, Chris starts to worry. His star, Sarah Newman, seems to be tanking her performance and the seasoned and impulsive director, John Bynes, wants to replace her with Judy, who seems to have talent. The two women begin to butt heads with Chris stuck in the middle. As production is wrapping up, it comes out in the press that Nancy had a lesbian relationship with a big Hollywood star in the sixties. Chris is on the brink of a nervous breakdown with the release date looming and Nancy still alive, and it certainly doesn’t help that the film isn’t showing much signs of being any good in the eyes of critics. Chris’ boss, Benjamin Louis, is getting nervous and wants to push back the date. How can Chris quell the bad press and figure out a way for Nancy to die by the time the film comes out?

What the press would say:

As a loose sequel to the film “Cigarette Burns,” the Weitz brothers have struck gold again. This film takes a look at the Hollywood underbelly. Vince Vaughn plays a The Player-esque film executive who licenses and develops biopics for his film studio but its not working like it should. So his assistant, played well by Thora Birch, blackmails him for an idea. So she ends up in the first movie and he gets her idea…to start production on a film before the star in question dies. As could be expected hilarity issues. Vaughn draws upon prior, seedy roles for this film, but still manages to leave the childishness and annoying tendencies at the door. Portraying the dying celebrity is veteran actress Maggie Smith. As a former rock-star, you wouldn’t automatically think the English-born Smith, but she has all the edges roughed and all the cigarettes smoked and pulls it off to hilarious effect. Birch plays an innocent who stumbles onto her blackmail scheme. She almost turns on a dime from humble secretary to a soon-to-be star. Reprising her role from “Cigarette Burns,” Mary-Louise Parker plays the dying celebrity in the film version, but seems to be purposely messing up her role. She brings everything loved from the previous film to this one and she’s still got all the trimmings. Also putting in nice supporting work is Ian Holm, reprising his role as the head of the film studio, while actor-director Sydney Pollack plays a…director and brings his general likeability to the film. All those expecting a sophomore slump from the “Hollywood Sucks” trilogy will be disappointed. It might even top “Cigarette Burns” in quality and laughs.

For Your Consideration (Comedy)

Best Picture: Rodney M. Liber & Andrew Miano & Paul Weitz
Best Director: Paul Weitz
Best Actor: Vince Vaughn
Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith
Best Supporting Actress: Thora Birch
Best Supporting Actress: Mary-Louise Parker
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz

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