SHOWBOY

NR
Reviews

Christian Taylor's Showboy is a "faction" film that mixes reality and fantasy to uncover the seamy underbelly of showbiz--i.e., Hollywood and the Vegas Strip. When he is unceremoniously fired from the writing staff of "Six Feet Under" by producer Alan Ball, Taylor decides to fulfill his dream of becoming a Vegas dancer. Lindy Heymann's film crew follows him to Sin City and records every absurdly campy, humiliating moment of his crazy quest.

Silly only begins to describe this, but along the way, bitter truths are revealed and some real laughs delivered. In the former department, Taylor is exposed to that most American of experiences: self-hatred based on body image. A casting director tells this perfectly presentable guy that he's "too thin" to make it in Vegas, which instigates a terrifying trip to a plastic surgeon. Underneath all the fun-fun-fun of the Strip, there lies a definite loneliness, which Taylor, as a gay man, feels all too clearly. The firing scene, with Ball's suggestion that his talents perhaps lie more in the direction of a cop or hospital show and "I hope this doesn't affect our relationship as friends," is chillingly glib. (And, as it turns out, totally accurate, for although this was one of the film's staged scenes, when Taylor was actually fired a year later, Ball used the same language.)

The droll moments manage to outweigh the heavier ones, however, and Taylor and Heymann's typically British and dry sense of drollery is the film's biggest asset. Siegfried & Roy are presented in all their pre-mishap magnificence in a funny audition scene that truly portrays them as Vegas royalty, with tongue firmly in cheek. The deadly seriousness of choreographers, plying their step/kick/jazz-hands business, also provides amusement. Las Vegas itself is really the funniest character of all, especially when Taylor, ridiculously outfitted as a Roman senator tour guide at Caesar's Palace, stops in front of a statue and declaims, "Ah yes, a fine ancient Roman statue, Michelangelo's David." (A typical, awestruck tourist helpfully adds, "To be or not be.")

-David Noh