By Heather Wadowski | September 14, 2001

If everyone is famous for 15 minutes of his or her life, what are the three minutes like right before everybody knows your face? That is the question director Griffin Dunne (“Practical Magic”) asks in the mockumentary “Lisa Picard is Famous,” a film that looks at the life of two struggling New York actors before they make it “big.”
Laura Kirk plays Lisa Picard, an actress who, until now, has been waiting for that one role that will send her into movie stardom. After starring in a very sensual Wheat Chex commercial, Lisa’s career has been somewhat at a halt. When she receives a bit part in a made-for-TV movie of the week though, Lisa and her friends believe that the role will change her life forever. “Lisa Picard is Famous” looks at the days leading up to the premiere of the film, and how even the smallest amount of fame can change a person– and not for the better.
While the premise to the movie is intriguing, Dunne fails to uncover any secret struggles actors face on their way to the top. Instead, Dunne fills the film with typical clichés about the entertainment industry and actors in general– wishful actors live in shithole apartments (excuse me, shoe box-sized rooms), cameos quickly go to actors’ heads, actors’ so-called big breaks can land on the cutting room floor… you get the picture. Although the movie has a few insightful moments– one scene focusing on mainstream film’s fear of homosexual relationships is worth a chuckle or two– majority of the script is predictable and unoriginal. From the first shot viewers know that Lisa will never make it big as an actress. She is annoying, bitchy and egotistical, and her only real talent seems to be using everyone she knows as a stepping stone during her attempts to make the public familiar with her face. While Kirk’s performance as the talentless, know-it-all actress does help keep viewers in their seats as they eagerly wait for Lisa to fail, like most actors trapped in dead-end roles, she can only hold the audience’s attention for so long.
The true reason to see “Lisa Picard is Famous,” however, isn’t for the main actors in the film, but instead for the numerous cameos. Everyone from Academy Award Winner Mira Sorvino (who produced the film) to Spike Lee appears briefly in the movie as themselves, while other real-life actors and directors provide insight on life as a movie star. The true scene-stealing performance though comes from former American Sweetheart Sandra Bullock. Although she only appears in the film for a couple of minutes, Bullock lets viewers glimpse into the life of an actor more than Dunne does with the hour and a half he takes to tell the story of Lisa Picard. As we see her struggle with being polite to Lisa and her best friend Tate when they invite her to Tate’s one-man play on homosexuality, viewers get the feel for how the general public assumes they know a star and expects to be friends with them. Dunne truly captures how uncomfortable Lisa and Tate make Bullock feel, showing that there really are two sides to a celebrity’s life, and that one life– the private one– shouldn’t be bothered by the public.
“Lisa Picard Is Famous” could have easily been a cult-classic for true cinema fans if it provided a humorous look into the word of a ‘new’ actor from a director who was once there himself (does anyone besides myself remember him starring opposite Madonna in 1987’s “Who’s That Girl?”). Unfortunately, the movie decides to resort on cheesy cliches to carry its plot rather than intelligent insights and observations. Although its few moments of redemption aren’t enough to make “Lisa Picard is Famous” worth the time, aspiring actors may still find the film worth watching when it’s available to rent– just don’t expect to learn anything you didn’t already hear from your high school drama teacher.

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