Writers: Mika Boorem, Benjamin Boorem, Cshediiz Coleman, Benjamin Lockman and Michael Lindley
Director: Mika Boorem
A double case of mistaken identity leads wannabe actor Mika to Guatemala where she is tasked with pre-production research for a movie about a Mayan Dwarf King and where she is assumed to be a drug runner who has stolen a sacred jade on behalf of her Studio bosses. The plot of indie film Hollywood.Con, available now on digital download, is a little short of a mess and, across its tonally fluctuating 100-minute running time, it struggles to make sense.
Accidentally using the portfolio of producer Veronica Lake, Mika is given the chance of a lifetime with her stolen identity but first she must convince her former survival show TV-star father to accompany her to Guatemala. Jealous and worried his own position is under threat, Josh sets out to stop Mika’s movie by any means, even hiring his own lookalike to negotiate with a rival studio and sending his gardener to steal a precious jade treasure from a temple.
Hollywood.Con sounds like it should be a spoof, a comment on the pressures of creating action movies and the mysterious role of the producer. Instead, this low budget comedy lacks laughs and, despite a few borrowed plot points from Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile, no two scenes make sense together as it leaps between styles, references and tangential plot strands. By the film’s closing act, the audience remains as perplexed as it did at the start.
To say Hollywood.Con has no identity is an understatement as it veers wildly between comedy, action-adventure and gross-out. A documentary-frame about the making of the movie adds very little to the narrative other than creating opportunities for characters to speak into the camera in lieu of internal monologue. There is an inexplicable fantasy sequence featuring animated Mayan patterns in front of which the baddie smugly gyrates with a giant erection which is exasperating, while a chase through the desert is turned into a music video with a singer who has nothing to do with the film standing on a rock.
Director and co-writer Mika Boorem also stars as the wannabe-actor auditioning for a Zombie film and while her character, for ease also called Mika, is likeable, her thunderclap transformation from meek ingenue into confident and resourceful action hero is more than a little unlikely. It is not easy to invest in any of the characters in fact and there’s plenty of overacting from the supporting cast including Herbert Russell’s inept baddie Josh and Tom Arnold as an overly chatty drugs baron.
While it promotes respect for Guatemalan culture and the stolen treasure that drives the plot, the film actually offers clichéd perspectives of the Central American country where characters are depicted as kidnappers, bandits or spiritual gurus – not least Nino De Marco’s Mayan Priest who refuses to leave his sacred duty and then becomes instantly besotted with the fatuous facelift and shopping elements of LA culture.
Hollywood.Con could have been an interesting satire on the studio system, the ingrained sexism of its bosses and the expectations placed on producers to deliver at any cost. Instead, the script penned by five writers, feels like the playground game where each person writes their idea on a piece of paper, folds it over and passes it on, creating an incoherent story that fails to offer any serious insights on the problems of movie making.
Out Now on Digital Download