Film Review: Going Down in La-La Land

A young Hollywood hopeful resorts to porn, and his lowered expectations match yours as you trudge through this latest gay&#8212;but really grim&#8212;offering by tireless <i>auteur </i>Casper Andreas.

It’s once more time to cue up that Eagles’ chestnut “New Kid in Town” as fresh-faced Adam (Matthew Ludwinski) journeys to L.A. in search of fame and fortune. He rooms with his pal, eternally aspiring actress Candy (Allison Lane), and lands a receptionist job at a talent agency. But the poisonous attitude of his gay boss (Jesse Archer), but one of multitudes of this type in town, is unbearable, and he quits. Nick (Casper Andreas), a photographer he meets at the gym, clues him in to an office job with a porn company, "Jet Set Men." It isn’t long before Nick and the company’s owner, Ron (John Schile), are trying to coax squeaky-clean Adam into doing the nasty before the cameras.

Financially strapped, Adam consents and also does escort work, where he meets John (Michael Medico), the closeted star of a top-rated family sitcom. They click and John even hires Adam as his personal assistant, but the tabloid press gets wind of Adam’s X-rated performances, which put the kibosh on this beautifully budding romance.

With his Swedish tin ear for American idioms forever hampering his dialogue, Casper Andreas has become something of the Cecil B. DeMille of gay schlock, having already brought us such splashy yet lame queer epics as Slutty Summer, A Four Letter Word and The Big Gay Musical. This latest, gruesomely titled effort is superior to those screechy camp-fests and actually tells a story with moments of seriousness, but that still doesn’t mean it’s any much good. Adapted from a novel by Andy Zeffer, Going Down in La-La Land is rife with clichéd characters and situations, and tiresomely obvious and unfunny, if invariably vulgar, stabs at wit. Although set in the porn industry with dabs of sex and nudity, it’s also anything but sexy, and photographed with that dreary, unappetizing brownish lighting that screams L.A. indie. We’ve seen all of this before—in lousy straight movies as well as lousy gay ones (Showgirls springs to mind)—and the one element that could have possibly redeemed it—good, fresh performances—is entirely missing.

Ludwinski is, unfortunately, as bland as the young Wendell Corey and, while fetching enough, lacks the shut-the-front-door gorgeousness that would explain all of L.A. obsessing over him. Medico—although wholly unconvincing as any kind of sitcom dad—makes a fit mannequin-like mate for him. Andreas gives himself the most dramatic character arc as Nick spirals into crystal meth addiction, but, as facilely portrayed here, you simply do not care. Lane does ham on wry in what must be the 500th variant—although they’re always the same, really—on the protective, Eve Arden-ish fag-hag sidekick.

The cast is sprinkled with such Hollywood showbiz types as comedian Alec Mapa, as a truly vicious queen, and the aesthetically challenged Bruce Vilanch. An unrecognizable Judy Tenuta, sans accordion and floral headpiece, is briefly and bitterly effective as a bitchy beard for John who tries to stir up trouble.