Film Review: Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe

<i>Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe</i> instantly recalls <i>What the Bleep Do We Know?</i> from 2004. But the mixture of jumbled narrative and metaphysical musings simply doesn’t work.

Phil Gallo’s Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe is part story, part essay, but all silly and pretentious. A good cast can’t save this movie from disappearing into the ether.

Angela Pierce plays the title role, an ordinary city dweller who experiences an existential crisis when her grandfather, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist (Orson Bean), dies and leaves her a strange videotaped message about the meaning of life vis-à-vis the Holoflux Universe. Mattie then ends up arrested for a murder-conspiracy plot when her family’s PR firm’s top client, Phoebe (Carol Alt), is killed. While in jail, Mattie reviews the odd place she finds herself in and finally understands her grandfather’s message.

If you can image David Auburn’s Proof as adapted for Jim Carrey, you would have an idea how Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe plays. Meant to be both funny and profound, the film turns out to be neither.

The only reason to see Phil Gallo’s misbegotten effort is to catch a few of the cast members at work. Pierce is appealing as Mattie (although it is hard to fully grasp her character’s angst given the unnecessarily twisty and overloaded narrative). The underrated Orson Bean doesn’t get much to do, but is welcome playing Mattie’s iconoclastic grandfather. Ellen Cleghorne (remember her on “SNL”?) is wasted as Mattie’s cellmate, but she reminds us how refreshing she used to be on that comedy show. And Robert Walden (remember “Lou Grant”?) has a small but fun bit as an elderly doctor. But former model Alt is mediocre as the PR firm’s bitchy client, and some others in the supporting cast are downright amateurish.

But the real problem with Mattie Fresno is that it’s confusing, incoherent and ultimately tiresome. Somehow, director Gallo and his team have turned a satire with special effects and storytelling savvy into a glum, heavy-going exercise.