Who’s In It: Robert DeNiro, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, Robin Wright Penn, John Turturro, Michael Wincott, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn
The Basics: Robert DeNiro is a Hollywood producer having a late mid-life crisis while navigating the treacherous entertainment industry. And guess what? Those people are awful and shallow. I know, can you even believe it? Who would have imagined that? You know what else they are? Super-crazy-rich. That’s the part where the whole “feeling sympathy for their problems” thing starts to crumble. Still, though, kinda funny. Not The Player or Swimming With Sharks funny. But still, almost enough.
What’s The Deal: Movies like this one are inherently weird. They pretend to pull back the curtain on the insidery details of the Hollywood Machine and then satirize those bottom-line-driven values. Except that the people the films are about are also the people making them, the ones being mocked as well as the ones doing the mocking. And it would be easier to buy what they were selling if it didn’t feel like, in some twisted way, they weren't still gloating about how really excellent their pampered, spoiled, grown-ups-in-high-school lives are.
Who’s Good: Catherine Keener. But that’s kind of a given. Have you ever seen this woman in a movie, even a crappy one, and not been totally confident in her ability to clear her own path right through the mess? And in this one she cuts glass with every word as a stone-cold industry player.
Where It Comes From: Old-school producer Art Linson’s memoir of the same name, the one where Alec Baldwin is actually the irascible, stubborn movie star who won’t shave or lose weight. Here that actor is played by Bruce Willis doing a weird impersonation of himself as “Bruce Willis.” Sean Penn comes along for the playing-himself ride too, although it’s unclear as to whether or not Penn is actually behaving any differently than he does in real life. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and just say he is.
Who’ll Like It The Most: Industry drones, wannabe industry drones, people who worship Entourage.