Friday July 18, 1997
This is one comedy about Hollywood in which you can believe that absolutely everything in it either has, could--or will--happen. Indeed, the film's key plot development did in fact happen in real life last year--while Mandt was already editing his film.
Henry Thomas' Kevin, a recent University of Detroit graduate in film, has the slightest of edges over the legions of Hollywood wannabes: His aunt was the first of the five wives of a big-time Hollywood producer (Mark Metcalf). The producer is in the midst of making "Moby Dick 2: The Revenge," which, as the hilarious title indicates, owes more to "Jaws" than Herman Melville and is being promoted as the most expensive sequel of all time.
As it turns out, his aunt's connection is just enough to land Kevin a job as a production assistant, which means that he has become the slave of an obnoxious production coordinator (Scott Thompson) who even has the kid deliver an ordinary pencil all the way from Santa Monica to Burbank. But the key part of Kevin's nonstop gofer tasks is to pick up at the airport the cans of film that arrive constantly from Hawaii, where "Moby" is shooting, and deliver them to the lab.
Meanwhile, Kevin has accepted an apartment to share, sight unseen. It turns out to be the size of a shoe box and located at the far-from-desirable intersection of Yucca and Wilcox in Hollywood. But his new roommate Tad (Mandt) has the apparent savvy Kevin so lacks.
Tad believes in appearances; he pours everything into a fancy wardrobe and is the smoothest, most unflappable of talkers. Not that Tad, a would-be producer, has actually gotten anything off the ground as yet. "In development" is a phrase Tad applies frequently and very loosely. But Kevin has a script, by golly--"Three Days in a Salt Mine"--and he envisions himself directing and Tad producing. But how to do it?
What's next is clever and amusing, and Mandt displays an admirable light touch on both sides of the camera. He seems instinctively to know how not to overplay his hand. Thomas is a delight as a young man who knows full well how much he doesn't know. And Thompson and Metcalf are deliciously pompous hypocrites.
When Mandt gave up freelance TV news producing to turn independent filmmaker, he knew what he was doing.
Hijacking Hollywood, 1997. Unrated. A Curb Entertainment and Broken Twig Productions presentation. Producer-director Neil Mandt. Executive producer Ann Mandt. Screenplay by Neil Mandt & Jim Rossow. Cinematographer Anton Floquet. Editor Charlie Webber. Costumes Michele Michel. Music Erik Lundmark. Production designer Todd Cherniawsky. Art director Linda Louise Sheets. Set decorator Ruth O'Neil. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. Henry Thomas as Kevin. Scott Thompson as Russell. Mark Metcalf as Martin Lawrence. Neil Mandt as Tad.