“They Would Love You in France” seems like a patently unfair title since even the French, despite their history of dubious tastes in movies, would have little patience for this clumsy and self-indulgent bit of Los Angeles bumbling.
The film involves three wannabes who came to Hollywood in search of their artistic dreams and found nothing even closer to their goals. Warren (played by Sheldon Strickland, who co-wrote and co-directed the film) is a musician who never got near to becoming a recording star and is lucky to get gigs playing background tracks and tiny clubs. His girlfriend Angel (Challen Cates) is a French actress who can only find auditions for prostitute roles, but her thick accent and conspicuous lack of talent ensures she never gets the parts. Jackson (Branton Boxer) is a bearded would-be writer from Kansas with a computer full of unsold screenplays, a bookcase with bags of grass, and a bed conspicuously devoid of the hot California girls he so desperately wants to seduce.
Too much of the film is spent with this trio bitching and moaning about how much they hate L.A. and how their expectations of fame and fortune never came to pass. If you though Henry Jaglom’s films were heavy in navel-gazing, what until you see this one. Better yet, don’t see it! Making matters worse is the decision by Strickland and his collaborator Tony J. Perri of playing the film too cute, complete with having the characters talk directly to the camera and freezing the frame while the characters offer less-than-pithy narrative commentary on what is going on within the scene. The joke wears very thin, very quickly, and since none of this film is remotely interesting or amusing the notion of breaking down the fourth wall is a waste.
If “They Would Love You in France” has any redeeming feature, it would be the performances. Not that they are good, but that they are so amateurish that they have a weirdly endearing charm. Challen Cates is especially lovable/laughable with her vain attempt at a Gallic accent, which sounds like Pepe le Pew sucking helium, and her inability to speak a single line without making it sound like she is reading her part for the very first time off a cue card. Equally amusing is Herb Jefferson as Warren’s crackhead father who periodically barges in on his son to get cash. Rather than play the character as a tragic or threatening being, Jefferson instead attempts to channel Redd Foxx in his Fred Sanford persona and thus makes the father into a crotchety old coot playing for cheap laughs against his dead-head son.
The film is also home to Bowie the Dog, who plays a character named Bowie the Dog. This big fluffy canine is so cute and expressive that he steals every scene he wanders into. You’d wish a casting director from the Animal Planet cable channel would take his leash and whisk him into a professional production. The shabby shenanigans of this feature are so beneath Bowie that it is a small miracle he didn’t lift his leg on everyone involved in its creation.