When a movie, or in this case a documentary, makes Hollywood its subject, it can be easy to never get past the regular cliché elements. You know, the disgusting display of wealth, the plastic surgery, the self absorption, or anything else that comes to mind when people think about that “glamorous” world. So when “Rhinoskin” began with a montage of the routine struggling actor in Hollywood stuff, I began to feel that I was going to have a very annoying déjà vu experience. Once it gets started though, the film gives a realistic and touching portrait of what it would be like to live in Hollywood and be a struggling actor.
The documentary follows the actor Tod Dupri around as he shows up to audition after audition and tries to capture that elusive first break. It doesn’t take long to figure out why an actor in Hollywood would need skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Tod Dupri is obviously a talented actor, but in a city where many strive for one role, Tod comes up short on several auditions. The film is full of self-mocking situations that give it an extra bit of humor and warmth. For example, what does a future Brando do for money when the jobs aren’t exactly coming through? He works as an actor, er, um, actually, he works a mascot for a local Chicken fast-food restaurant. That’s right, he’s dressed in the full chicken body suit, with feathers and a beak. Another example takes us back to his hometown of Holland (Holland, Michigan that is). When asked about Tod and his decision to move away, the locals tend to be naïve, cynical, sometimes nice, sometimes nasty, but always small-town-minded about his decision. Although the film doesn’t give us any new information about how hard it is to succeed as an actor, it does give us a portrait of a geniune person who might never get a bigger job than appearing on Doogie Howser M.D. We still get a touching look at what it takes to even attempt to try and achieve our dreams, no matter how high the odds are stacked against us.
If there’s anyone with a son or daughter, or has a friend who’s dreaming of moving to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor, be sure that they take a look at “Rhinoskin” for either inspiration, or a deterrent.