The more movies I watch about the ins and outs of working for a Hollywood studio, the more I wonder: why would anybody bother? Films like “Swimming with Sharks” and “The Player,” while obviously fiction, go to great lengths to portray the difficulties of getting into show business and the depths to which people will sink in order to catch that big break. “New Suit,” written by Craig Sherman, plumbs these depths while still keeping a sense of levity about the proceedings.
Kevin Taylor (Jordan Bridges) is a struggling screenwriter. As he vainly attempts to shop his script around Hollywood, his neighbor Roxanne (Marisa Coughlan) convinces him to interview as an assistant to fading producer Muster Hansau (Dan Hedaya). He gets the job, and the two start dating. Jump ahead 18 months, and Kevin has become quite adept in his new position, falling into the rhythm of arranging meetings for Muster’s two subordinates (Mark Setlock and Heather Donahue) and lunching with his fellow studio lackeys. On the down side, he and Roxanne have broken up.
Kevin has an epiphany of sorts during one of these lunches. Realizing that none of his fellow “story consultants” has actually read a script they keep heaping with voluminous praise, he claims to be sitting on a great screenplay by one “Jordan Strawberry.” When pressed later by one of his friends for the title, he comes up with “The New Suit.” Before you can say “Captain Tuttle,” everyone in Hollywood is jockeying for the hot property (going so far as to claim long-standing relationships with the fictitious Strawberry), including Roxanne, now a junior agent with a prestigious talent agency.
Sherman casts a satirical eye on the sycophantic underpinnings of modern day La-La-Land by using Hans Christian Andersen’s familiar themes from “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Of course, making fun of the idiosyncrasies of Hollywood types isn’t exactly plowing fresh ground. Jokes at the expense of those California degenerates are roughly equivalent to lawyer gags and “Whazzup?!” in terms of novelty.
Still, painting with a broad brush is fine when it works, and it mostly does in “New Suit,” thanks in large part to the performances. Jordan Bridges looks like Fred Savage’s better looking older brother, and is a more sanguine character than, say, Frank Whaley’s Guy in “Swimming With Sharks (maybe because Dan Hedaya’s Muster is nowhere near the bastard Kevin Spacey’s Buddy was). Most impressive to me were Heather Donahue as associate producer Molly (partly because it took me three-quarters of the way through the movie to recognize her from The Blair Witch Project) and “The Shield’s” Benito Martinez – recognizable but 180 degrees removed from his role as Captain Aceveda – as gopher/philosopher Juan. “New Suit” takes a relatively easy route by bestowing happy endings on the principals, but at least it’s savvy enough to realize that showbiz isn’t all there is to life.