1994, R, 112 min. Directed by Barry Levinson. Starring Joe Pesci, Christian Slater, Victoria Abril, Jason Beghe, John Cothran, Jr.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 1, 1994
Barry Levinson isn't sure what to do next. After a string of successes with Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man, and Bugsy, he fizzled with the outmoded, Seventies-flashback Toys and now -- strike two -- Jimmy Hollywood, a confused, meandering film that attempts mixing comic vigilantism with the story of a struggling Tinseltown actor and his intellectually stripped sidekick. It's also an impassioned ode to the days of Hollywood gone by: when we first meet Jimmy “Hollywood” Alto (Pesci), he's wandering down the Strip with his eyes closed, reciting a litany of the famous names emblazoned on the stars beneath his feet. Here's a guy, a mensch, really, who's been waiting for that one big break just a little too long. He knows that stardom's just around the corner, but stardom, it seems, doesn't know about him. When his girlfriend Lorraine (Abril, of Pedro Almodovar's High Heels and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!) is threatened at gunpoint while visiting the local ReadyTeller, and then in the same night his car stereo is stolen, Jimmy decides to fight back. Armed with a video camera and the assistance of his pal William (Slater), he catches crooks and drug dealers in the act and then delivers them -- anonymously -- to the inept hands of the LAPD. Casting himself as “Jericho, the cell leader of the Save Our Streets group”, Jimmy finagles a role out of reality. While the populace loves this shadowy vigilante, the police, on the other hand, consider him a menace and begin a dragnet that threatens to turn Jimmy Alto's fantasy role-of-a-lifetime into a criminal act that may end in tragedy. In Levinson's Hollywood, everything and everybody is just a bit off-kilter: Jimmy, William, and even the more or less level-headed Lorraine are flashing in and out of reality, confusing their very valid dreams with the day-to-day madness of living in Smog Central. Apparently Levinson's idea was to draw a parallel between Hollywood then and now, from a comic point of view. There are occasional places where he succeeds, but in the end Jimmy Hollywood is a spotty, hollow, scattershot film that leaves you feeling as empty inside as Jimmy Alto's SAG resume.