An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn

on February 20, 1998 by Jon A. Walz
Film has become one of the most powerful forces on earth today, having the power to do social good, entertain, educate, and now with "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn," it has become a narcissistic forum for angry, talent-challenged screenwriter Joe Esterhas to exact revenge on everyone in Hollywood who's done him wrong. Apparently the whole town, including the high-dollar Hollywood prostitutes have been on his case recently.
Ironically, this film about the struggles of a first time director who wants to take his name off of a big-budget action film that was re-cut by the producer behind his back, has become an authentic Alan Smithee film when original director, and past president of the Directors Guild of America, Arthur Hiller pulled his name, according to reports in the Hollywood press, for the same reason.
After having his $200 million action film "Trio" starring Whoopi, Sly, and Jackie Chan taken away from him, director Alan Smithee (played by Eric Idle), steals the negative from the lab and threatens to burn it unless he gets final cut. Enter sleazy studio executive Jerry Glover (Richard Jeni) and slimy producer James Edmunds (Ryan O'Neal) who in bad Abbott and Costello form try to track Smithee down. Smithee has, meanwhile gone underground with the help of two hard-core black, gangsta filmmakers (the drop-dead hilarious rap stars Coolio and Chuck D.) who are enlisted to negotiate with the studio on his behalf.After the negotiations break down, Smithee finally burns the negative, which in true-Hollywood style causes an all-out bidding war for the rights to his life story.
"An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn" at its core is a hollow, tedious (even at 86 minutes it's long), and dated inside joke (constant references to Michael Ovitz and the Japanese might have been funny in `95), that probably will not translate to audiences that are not employed in the movie business. The material here was better covered in a more timeless sense by "The Player;" and even with the help of a similar cavalcade of stars playing themselves, the film's irritating humor and inconsistent tone which shifts between Zucker Bros. stapstick and TV movie of the week drama, is a killer. Starring Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, Sylvester Stallone and Richard Jeni. Directed by Alan Smithee. Written by Joe Esterhas. Produced by Ben Myron. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language and some sexual humor. Running time: 86 min.
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