LIVING THE DREAM

NR
Reviews

One tries not to be harsh critiquing a fledgling filmmaker's movie. People scrape together financing, pour their heart and dreams into a story, sacrifice and suffer...and none of that guarantees the end result will be any good. With movies like that, you want to be truthful without being hurtful. Then there are movies like this, that you want to hurt as much as they hurt you. My brain is bruised. My jaw hurts from dropping.

Written and co-directed by a corporate headhunter and casting agent named Christian Schoyen, this 18-day, $350,000 production is a vapid mess that outwardly looks like a theatrical movie--it's shot nicely, the edits match, it has some established professional actors--but just careens around from sequence to disconnected sequence like a badly tarted-up pinball. Fey Jonathan Svenson (Schoyen) and used-car saleswoman Brenda Goldfarb (a bewildered-looking Sean Young), childhood misfits together in Eugene, Oregon, have remained friends in their 40s in L.A. He works for her husband, the aptly named Dick (Jeff Conaway), who runs a telemarketer boiler room out of his garage. When Brenda finally leaves the crude and neglectful Dick--following some teary, heartbroken revelation at a funeral for we-don't-know-who--her platonic pal Jonathan gets canned.

With no experience, capital or know-how, the two start an executive-recruitment firm--using insurance money scammed from a fake burglary with made-up receipts. Why this follows a scene in which an insurance investigator (Larry Drake) clearly susses out the truth makes no sense at all. But then, little does. Using their start-up dough and a leased Porsche, Jonathan becomes the toast of an ostensibly chic club with a clientele out of Barfly--except for boy-toys licking the leg of a drunken hag (the once-respected Brazilian actress Marilia Pera) who, in a later scene, talks exactly like Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd's "Wild and Crazy Guys." Brenda, meantime, makes out with balding schlubs and a scraggly, gap-toothed, supposed boy-toy who looks like Oliver Stone wearing a bleached-blond Pomeranian. What the hell?

By the time Brenda is somehow having Internet dates fly in from Kansas and elsewhere after seeing an old picture of her--none of them staying after meeting her at the door, except one to whom she slips a roofie--the movie has just plain lost its mind. And there's still more madness, including a nudie montage with Schoyen that looks like he filmed his casting-couch auditions, and childhood trauma explained as the result of vicious apple-cheeked Bobby and Cindy Bradys. One of them, played as an adult by Danny Trejo, is supposed to be a rich jerk. But he's actually more honorable than our heroes--giving an old childhood acquaintance a business break, keeping his word, and expecting them to keep theirs.