Always Something Better

Merge "Ruby in Paradise" with "The Birdcage," subtract the talent, and you have "Always Something Better," a trifling low-budget indie filmed in and around Miami's South Beach.

With:
Jill ..... Nicole Freeman Keith ..... Chris Sery Billee ..... Candis Cayne Mona ..... Girlina Oliver ..... Steve Kinsella Maurice ..... David Asili Jake ..... Tony Pompite Kathy ..... Angel Boris

Merge “Ruby in Paradise” with “The Birdcage,” subtract the talent, and you have “Always Something Better,” a trifling low-budget indie filmed in and around Miami’s South Beach. Pic may get some exposure as cable filler. Despite some modestly engaging elements, however, it lacks sufficient polish and pizazz to attract ticketbuyers or video renters.

Director Steve Kinsella’s wispy screenplay focuses on Jill (Nicole Freeman), a young woman who’s eager to see what life is like in the world outside her hometown of New Smyrna, Fla. The steroid-induced rages of her boyfriend, Keith (Chris Sery), are getting worse all the time, so Jill drives to South Beach to find work as a fashion model.

She befriends a couple of sassy and brassy drag queens, Billee (Candis Cayne) and Mona (Girlina), who give her encouragement and a few makeup tips. With their help, Jill is well on her way to fame and fortune as an international supermodel within two months. Keith eventually shows up to make a nuisance of himself, but even he isn’t able to impede Jill’s relentless rise.

As an overnight success story, “Always Something Better” is bland and simplistic. There’s no real conflict to speak of — Keith never comes across as a genuine threat — and far too much fairy-tale contrivance. Freeman makes a pleasant impression as Jill, but she’s hard-pressed to sustain interest as her character simply gets one lucky break after another.

Cayne and Girlina sporadically liven up the proceedings by talking trash and shaking their groove things. It’s quite possible that, were they on camera more often, their antics would grow tedious. But whenever they’re not around, pic seems to be operating on automatic pilot. Other supporting players come and go without distinguishing or embarrassing themselves. Tech values are no more than adequate.

Always Something Better

Production: A Fierce Films production. Produced by Mark Montgomery, Andrew Schefter, Steve Kinsella. Executive producers, Mark Montgomery, John Kinsella. Directed, written by Steve Kinsella.

Crew: Camera (color), Jorge Diaz Amador; editor, Kristen M. Frascione; music supervisor, Michael Manglaforte; art direction, Shawn Felicer; sound, John Freeman. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, Oct. 16, 1997. (In Hollywood Film Festival.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With: Jill ..... Nicole Freeman Keith ..... Chris Sery Billee ..... Candis Cayne Mona ..... Girlina Oliver ..... Steve Kinsella Maurice ..... David Asili Jake ..... Tony Pompite Kathy ..... Angel Boris

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