MATINEE IDLE

Movie: The Movie Hero

Our Rating: 1.00

Imagine a University of Central Florida film student shooting framing footage for Disney's Great Movie Ride, and you'll have some idea of why to avoid The Movie Hero, a hopelessly dorky exercise in popcorn-munching reflexivity.

Slacker soliloquy is the order of the day as Jeremy Sisto (Thirteen, TV's Six Feet Under) assumes the role of Blake Gardner, an unemployed "movie nut" who considers his life ideal raw material for a Hollywood adventure. And we, luckless slobs that we are, get to play captive audience as Gardner pursues the requisite plot points – from chasing down a mysterious villain (Peter Stormare) to "hiring" a wisecracking sidekick (Brian J. White) to forcing an unlikely courtship with his drop-dead-gorgeous psychotherapist (Dina Meyer). All the while, Gardner is sticking his face in the camera and jabbering away, telling us how seamlessly his self-created story line fits in with Tinseltown tradition (or, alternately, rejects its clichŽs – coherent motivation is as scarce in this picture as honest laughs).

At the outset, Gardner cites some classic films as his inspirations. Whether new or old, they're resolutely mainstream flicks; for a well-funded underachiever who has nothing to do but sit on his rump in darkened theaters all day, he's picked up little taste for arcana. But keepin' it lowbrow is a great way to reach the starry-eyed tourists who are The Movie Hero's only conceivable audience. Viewers with a more (shall we say) downtown aesthetic will find themselves wishing that the film were instead a vehicle for the other Blake Gardner – the real-life actor/writer of the same name who abandoned Orlando a few years ago for the West Coast. Hell, anything would be better than the obnoxious Gardner of writer/director Brad T. Gottfred's imagination, an ineffectual fighter and pushy lover who Sisto manages to invest with zero self-deprecating charisma. He was more sympathetic when he was trying to bang his sister on Six Feet Under.

Self-absorption without sophistication is a terrifically off-putting prospect, but The Movie Hero kids itself that it's some sort of empowerment lesson – a reminder that we all need an inner audience (like the one Gardner imagines us as being) in order to excel. In other words, filmmaker Gottfred has erected a monument to narcissism. Bad movies are notoriously willing to break down the fourth wall; this one strides boldly up and urinates on it.

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