Lisa Picard Is Famous

on September 14, 2001 by Lael Loewenstein
This entertaining but slight mockumentary about two unknown actors on the rise and their quest for celebrity status boasts an appealing, off-beat flavor, big-name producer Mira Sorvino and a slew of celebrity cameos that Strand might be able to exploit when it releases the film.

   Written by Sorvino's former drama school classmates Nat DeWolf and Laura Kirk, this cinema pseudo-verité has a seldom-seen documentarian, Andrew (Griffin Dunne), trailing aspiring actress Lisa Picard (Kirk, a dead ringer for Penelope Ann Miller) around Manhattan. We also meet her gay best friend and fellow actor Tate (DeWolf), who is planning to launch a one-man show about homophobia. Initially, it looks like Lisa has the inside track on success; after all, she's already made a cereal commercial that spawned a cult following, has her own website, and has a "small but crucial" role in an upcoming TV movie. Tate, by contrast, has bungled a brief extra gig on a soap. But when Lisa sabotages an audition and Tate's show gets a rave review, the tables turn; to Lisa's chagrin, it looks like Tate may be the next big thing.

   There are some amusing moments, including affectionately irreverent riffs on the acting profession, the competition it elicits among friends, and the desperate lengths some actors will go to in order to get work. Some of these are inside jokes, to be sure, but the hand-held camera work is appropriately intimate to draw the viewer into the story. But the third act of this story loses some of the lightness and breezy spirit that kept it aloft.

   The best moments are those featuring cameos from celebs, including Sorvino, Charlie Sheen, Spike Lee and Sandra Bullock as themselves, as well as some revealing talking head interviews. Carrie Fisher, in particular, serves up the most interesting and poignant observation about fame. Having observed her mother's celebrity arc, Fisher recalls that when she first became famous, it saddened her because she knew it couldn't last. Starring Laura Kirk, Nat DeWolf and Griffin Dunne. Directed by Griffin Dunne. Written by Laura Kirk and Nat DeWolf. Produced by Mira Sorvino and Dolly Hall. A Strand release. Mockumentary. Not yet rated. Running time: 90 min

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