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Paramount Studios presents
"You know what I could never figure out about the Mummy? The Mummy used to walk with one arm out and a leg draggin' behind him, but he was still always able get his victim. I'm thinkin' as a kid, I was pretty fast, I'd just, ya know, put some moves on the Mummy and the Mummy, he'd never get me."
DVD ReviewOnce a sure thing in both critical and commercial success, director Barry Levinson has been on a cold streak as of late. His latest film, Envy, nearly managed to find itself as a direct-to-video release even with the star power of Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Christopher Walken, and several of his other recent endeavors won't find themselves on his Greatest Hits list. So what has happened? Well, one could surmise that after directing the likes of Bugsy, Good Morning, Vietnam, and of course, Diner and Rain Man, Levinson was cinema's King Midas, with everything he touched earning critical and commercial gold.
But times, they do change, and by the mid-1990s Levinson was in the midst of a career slump with the release of Toys, Disclosure, and Jimmy Hollywood within a two-year span. The latter is the best of the three, though that is certainly a backhanded compliment—while the film is a mess, it is a moderately funny and nearly successful one that misses just a tad off the mark. While things will get better for Levinson—Sleepers and Wag the Dog are signs of this—it is an unfortunate necessity that we talk about his lesser times.
Jimmy Alto (Pesci) is a struggling actor with dreams of making it in show business, though his talents don't recommend him. Even with a bus stop ad proclaiming his abilities and credits he is still floundering in Hollywood, and as a way to get by he has taken to stealing from his long-suffering girlfriend, Lorraine (Abril). One night Jimmy's car stereo is stolen and along with the help of his friend William (Slater), Jimmy decides to set out and find the thief. After the thief returns to the scene of the crime, Jimmy and William capture him and turn him into the authorities, and soon Jimmy has anointed himself the leader of S.O.S. (Save Our Streets) and has taken on the alias of Jericho.
Levinson has kept with a concurrent theme through his movies that involves everyday citizens pursuing their dreams in America. The results in his previous films were successful, here it is unclear what exactly Jimmy is pursuing. Fame? No, because he would give up the alias and he would be hugely recognizable. We never realize what exactly Jimmy's ultimate goal is here, aside from perhaps a fleeting shot at celebrity, but by the time the script runs through its scattered ideas there is little left. At best guess, aside from the central thread of Jimmy chasing notoriety, we also see Levinson's take on the demoralization of the once glamorous Hollywood. It is an interesting idea, but perhaps the wrong film to portray it in.
In the end, Levinson allows each of his conflicting ideas to quash the other and his film winds up being a convoluted mess. The characters that we should care about are one-note and uninteresting. In all actuality, had Levinson decided to make a film mainly about Jimmy's fledgling career and his pursuit of a big break, it would have likely worked well enough to justify a viewing.
The script also seems to desert its characters, abandoning the personalities that are built up at the start of the film into likable characters and turning them into plot mechanizations. None of the lead characters (Jimmy, Loraine, William) have any type of original thought in their heads and are instead relegated to being trapped in a plot where the setup induces their situations rather than letting the characters expand on their own.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: D
Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer for jimmy Hollywood is on par with other catalog releases from Paramount in that it is a nice transfer, but with a few flaws along the way. Sharpness and detail are generally well done with a few hints of grain coming through at times. The image does look vibrant with some deep and rich colors, though at times the brighter colors bleed a tad. Edge enhancement is noticeable throughout the middle of the picture, but it is never that distracting.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is adequate for the most part with dialogue sounding crisp and clear with no distortion. Surround use is minimal as is the use of the .1 LFE track. This is a nice, but average audio mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: Aside from 28 chapter stops and some static menu images, this disc contains no extra features.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsI didn't expect much coming into Jimmy Hollywood and thankfully the film lived up to my expectations. This is a mess of a picture that gets lost along the way and turns into a seemingly average comedy about a ridiculous character in a equally ridiculous situation.
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