By Rory L. Aronsky | August 20, 2005

Whether based on some sort of twisted Hollywood experience (and “Naked Movie” does feel twisted enough that it comfortably uses locations in Hollywood) or just engaging in complete self-loathing to be a little different than any other movie poking fun at Hollywood, director Sam Henry Kass enlists a stable of actors, producers, and even adult film star Herschel Savage to not only make this happen, but pull off a few surprises on the way.

For example, it all begins with a Hollywood talent agent, Iris Pytlak, getting ready to tape one of those “get well quickly” messages, as only people like her could do. This one is to Sam Henry Kass, her first client, who’s now in rehab. After giving him the whole rigmarole about starting in the business together, she really lets him have it over actually making a movie called “Naked Movie”, wondering what the hell is wrong with him. She’s pissed because she’s got her own reputation out there in Hollywood. She’s trying to work the best she can making deals that are only valid so long as the dealmaker remains valid in the eyes and minds of those who make up the Hollywood bubble. Then the opening credits begin, with Kass all over Hollywood and near Beverly Hills, with his credits on separate sheets of posterboard, doing it over and over again. While it is repeated far too much, with music that only exists to market a film (remember the songs in “American Pie”?), Kass means to say that insanity, charlatans, crazy people, and all kinds of fakery exist all over Hollywood. And sometimes, people who possess all these traits actually get to make TV shows and movies. But then comes the realization as Kass throws down each sheet that reveals who is in his movie…..

Holy crap! The agent! That was Tori Spelling! Yes, that Tori Spelling. While “The House of Yes” was funded by dear old Daddy and his production company, she proved quite effective as the dim-witted Lesly. Mind you, it was also the only movie where Freddie Prinze, Jr. was actually good. Now, as Iris Pytlak, Spelling gets right into the Hollywood merry-go-round, having experienced it for years and years on end, drawing on what she’s seen. A few more surprises exist in Sam Henry Kass’ possibly fictional attempt to make a movie, having been fired from many television shows over the years. He looks like someone you’d find walking aimlessly and dazed around Hollywood. Kass presses on, walking into the production office of High Class Films, with Pete McAlevey, the head of the company, currently playing master to a female slave. Then out comes Jodie Gomez (Idalis), Pete’s assistant who’s ticked that no work is ever done. As it turns out later on, she has more balls than Pete, co-producer Brock Robertson (Andy Dick as a porn mogul trying to go mainstream), and Joe Head (Michael Badalucco), the “superstar” of the production without a title, without a full script, which seems to just materialize on location with cameras, crew, actors, and Lou Diamond Phillips in a pimp costume, later joined by Christian Slater.

“Naked Movie” gets nowhere at times as editor Mitchell Danton and Kass have no idea how to make what’s here even more effective. A meeting with producer David Permut which includes director George Gallo (he made the horrifying comedy “Double Take”, with Permut producing, and also wrote the screenplay for “The Whole Ten Yards”) splits time with a table read of the script and at that table is David Carradine, Adrian Zmed, Danica McKellar, Suge Knight, Jeff Conaway, Lance Kinsey (whose only claim to being in Hollywood were the five “Police Academy” movies after the first one), Shelley Michelle (famed body double), and even Lee Majors holding a camera. It’s current and past Hollywood on parade. However, how about one situation at a time? This isn’t a series of skits, but is one guy’s strange attempt to make a movie, with Tori Spelling doing very well as a kind of Greek chorus (or soloist) to what’s going on.

Carmen Electra even gets into the act when she meets Sam twice and mistakes him for two guys she slept with. Andy Dick is thankfully not Andy Dick and just as much a surprise as Tori Spelling’s good performance is a completely unrecognizable French Stewart as a strip club owner, who tries to calm Sam down when he sees his wife performing there. All Stewart had to do was put on sunglasses, a leisure suit, and not be French Stewart and he nailed it. Principal photography is even nuttier as Pete McAlevey can’t be bothered, and Brock Robertson drives right into the shot, parking, and then getting out, wondering how the shoot’s going. Lou Diamond Phillips complains bitterly about “superstar” Joe Head (Michael Badalucco) not caring at all about the movie and being unprofessional, while Jodie, the casting director (pegged as Jodie Gomez on screen, but the credits have her listed as Jodie Morales which is even lazier work, no matter how funny “Naked Movie” tries to be in skewing Hollywood) is the only one working hard to keep everything together and doing a damn fine job of it too.

While it hopefully has been fixed since then, “Naked Movie” has severe problems in its presentation which can’t be ignored on the technical side. Shot digitally, “Naked Movie” looks like it was compressed far too much, which makes actors a few feet away hard to see, their expressions even harder to notice. It’s even more of a distraction than the constant change to a smaller on-screen box with “REC” on the bottom right, the result of Kass using Ryan Slater to document his entire production, a minor point within this swirling outrageousness.

Through it all, “Naked Movie” conjures up some fun. Hollywood is constantly at work during the business week, checking up on major productions in progress, taping television shows, seeing how they can better market the products they have in the pipeline, and making sure they remain in the black. Plus, with the DVD market booming wider than the result of an atomic bomb test, that’s another part of the whole arena. Each day, there are also those on the outskirts or near the outskirts of Hollywood, trying to make it in their own way, or trying to get back near the top. “Naked Movie” is for them. I’ll bet the struggle is indeed this weird.

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