Becoming a star in Hollywood is like winning the lottery—enormous rewards for a tiny handful of winners. But surviving in Hollywood is a matter of adapting to anything and everything that is thrown your way. There are no guarantees. Edwin and Jaime Marie Porres’ feature film, Hollyweird, is about two such hopefuls looking to make a name for themselves in Tinseltown.
Hollyweird follows the parallel path of two Latino actors hoping to land that big role in an upcoming film about a gritty undercover cop named Bosco. For Steve (Douglas Spain), he decides to go all-in for the role. Naturally, as a good-hearted, not-so-tough-looking guy, Steve musters up his best mean face for the tough cop and scores a “we’ll call you” in his audition. A lot is riding on getting this role as Steve just lost his job, his car broke down, and he’s late on his rent. He has passion and determination, which have to count for something.
Helping Steve is his new neighbor, Tabby (Madison Dewberry), who inserts herself as Steve’s manager. Steve becomes her latest project and gets him ready for his callback. He also needs Tabby for her apartment and car.
Then there’s Alejandro (Michael J. Knowles), who just stepped off the bus from Cuba. As Hollywood luck would have it, Alejandro is immediately discovered by a producer of the cop movie. Alejandro is an Al Pacino Scarface lookalike, and when you can’t get the real Pacino, get a guy who looks like him. Alejandro is pushed into the role by an attractive manager, Zara (Deborah Dir), whom he met at a swanky industry party.
“…Steve musters up his best mean face for the tough cop and scores a ‘we’ll call you’ in his audition…”
Hollyweird is a film that will appeal to anyone trying to make it in the entertainment business, along with anyone who’s suffered through cattle call auditions, rejections for “not looking right,” or that finding elusive “it” factor. The story also adds a social media element of self-promotion, walking that fine line between going viral or being canceled. It also highlights how arbitrary the casting process is as you’d think having talent is enough for success.
Ironically, when looking at the big picture, Hollyweird is precisely what it attempts to be—a showcase for the film’s actors, writers, and director. When you’re not an overnight sensation, making it in Hollywood requires getting experience making movies, getting your reps in, and building that IMDB page. Hollyweird is a good showcase of talent, boasting solid performances from its cast and a story structurally sound with good dialogue.
Hollyweird’s weakness comes in the character arcs of the leads: Steve, Alejandro, and Tabby. The central theme is about how we lie to ourselves and others to grab that brass ring of success. Honestly, I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t love this movie as much as I should have. I think it just came to the fact that the three leads’ arcs didn’t swing wide enough, and the stakes weren’t high enough to be exciting, which explains why the film felt flat, teetering on bland, by the end. There’s a reveal with Alejandro’s past that is crucial to the plot, but as big a deal as that reveal was, it comes across as no big deal as it quickly resolves itself.
Hollyweird is generally a good movie with a lot of heart. Though low stakes, it’s fun to watch with a story that will be familiar to anyone thinking of hopping on that bus to L.A.
"…a good showcase of talent, boasting solid performances..."