1998; Rated R; 99 Minutes
Ryan O'Neal: James Edmunds
Coolio: Dion Brothers
Chuck D: Leon Brothers
Richard Jeni: Jerry Glover
Eric Idle: Alan Smithee
Sylvester Stallone: Himself
Whoopi Goldberg: Herself
Jackie Chan: Himself
Produced by Fred C. Caruso, Ben Myron, Michael Sloan,
and Andrew G. Vajna;Directed by Arthur Hiller; Screenwritten
by Joe Ezsterhas
NOTE: Director Arthur
Hiller wishes to credit himself as "Alan Smithee."
by DAVID KEYES
Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn is one of the
most clever bad movies I have seen in my entire life. It
has an internal conflict that no one is entertained by,
and there’s no characters that anyone cares about. Yet,
it is an excellent reflection of what Hollywood faces today:
the lack of ideas in the movies, and how those ideas can
be stretched beyond the limits.
film was once a twinkle in the eyes of its writer, Joe Ezsterhas.
He wished to write a film which demonstrated his anger at
film making: by this, he meant to show the public how actors,
directors, producers, and writers are treated in the filming
of a movie. He wrote a screenplay entitled an Alan Smithee
Film, but later renamed it Burn Hollywood Burn.
After director Arthur Hiller picked up the rights to create
the film, it was then renamed An Alan Smithee Film Burn
Hollywood Burn. Look at that title closely: there’s
no punctuation in it.
here’s where it gets confusing. Alan Smithee is the alias
a director uses on the credits of his film when he wants
his name removed from them, either because he hated the
way the film turned out, or because he was in conflict with
someone in the studio. This alias was made up 28 years ago,
and has been used several times in recent years.
Ezsterhas’ screenplay tells the story of a man whose real
name is Alan Smithee, and he hates his film, but he can’t
remove his name, because the alias is the same thing. The
movie then involves Smithee, played by Eric Idle, trying
to get the help from fellow members of the studio to try
and destroy the copies of the film, which are secretly locked
away from his reach. The producer of Smithee’s film is played
by Ryan O’Niel, and he is sworn to keep the film away from
Smithee at all costs.
no real problem with Esztherhas doing this type of film,
but when his stars stare at the actual camera when they
should be participating in the movie, then you know he’s
got it all wrong. His idea to do this story was an anticipation
by critics everywhere, because they all know that the people
in the studio during the filming of a movie aren’t treated
really good. This film was going to get everything out into
the open, but Eszterhas must have been angry when he wrote
the script, and got sidetracked from writing characters
that no one cares about. All the jokes and humor are aimed
at people who know the real truth about Alan Smithee,
but not very many people are aware of it, so there’s no
one that laughs here. I got the jokes, and I didn’t laugh,
film stars Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, Coolio, Chuck
D and Whoopie Goldberg as themselves, but on the set, Stallone,
Chan, and Goldberg pretend that they are actually celebrity
impersonators, and not the real thing. They have no good
lines in the real movie whatsoever. Stallone seems to speak
in two different tones of voice: one where he sounds normal,
as he is looking away from the camera and doesn’t realize
it’s there, and another voice when he thinks he knows he
is being filmed.
Chan looks no different in this film than he does in one
of his action pictures, but Ms. Goldberg looks like she
has lost all of her prospect. In one scene, when she is
talking to Smithee at a bar, she has a cigar hanging out
of her mouth. When people come up to her and ask her if
she is THE Whoopie Goldberg, she tells them she is only
a celebrity impersonator. In truth, she is the real thing.
here’s something to consider: Arthur Hiller, the real director,
disliked the editing of AASFBHB, and took his name
off of it, making it a real Alan Smithee film.
this to the consideration: in the film, the Smithee character
confides in Chuck D and Coolio that the film he is trying
to abolish is "worse than ‘Showgirls’." Now Eszterhas wrote
"Showgirls," and, sure, it wasn’t a really good movie, but
it wasn’t that bad, either.
film does have a valuable use. After viewing it, I realized
that maybe this is what Hollywood is coming to. If they
continue having ideas like this one, than the film industry
could just go right down the drain. I’m not concluding that
it will, but it might be a possibility if ideas like this
continue to show up. If they do, the name "Alan Smithee"
may be in big use by directors all over the world.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.