Starf*cker

George Flynn Jamie Kennedy

George Flynn Jamie Kennedy

Kyle Carey Loren Dean

Jarry Wallace Clarence Williams III

Sandra Bridgette Wilson

Philip Fox Spencer Garrett

Iona Shirley Carmen Electra

Manny Bruce Ramsay

Tracey Beck Amy Smart

Saul Spengler Paul Herman

William Matt Malloy

Linda Phaeffle Marlo Thomas

Climbing the Hollywood ladder has become a staple topic of the American indie scene. An acerbic look at the needy and aspiring, “Starf*cker” gets in a few good licks and observations, but the film relies too heavily on oft-used situations. Not quite up to the rigors of the theatrical marketplace, this debut feature by writer-director John Enbom is nonetheless amusing and well cast, and could easily score as a cable premiere with modest spinoff on videocassette.

Pic’s dynamic of a wannabe befriending a star has been employed countless times in both dramatic and comic contexts. In this incarnation, George (Jamie Kennedy) works as an ad writer until one of a half-dozen of his completed scripts is discovered and produced.

Talent aside, George is trapped in a vicious circle. Because he’s a marginal, he hangs out with a crowd of “not-quites” that includes high school friends from Arizona and a rich kid who produced a grade-Z exploitation movie in the Philippines and is looking to step up to something more ambitious.

Something like fate interrupts the cycle. At one of the numerous low-rent, no-profile parties where George and friends network, he stumbles upon former young-hunk sitcom and movie actor Kyle Carey (Loren Dean) snorting cocaine in the bathroom. It’s as if he were struck dumb, and when Kyle suggests George drive him to a party at Faye Dunaway’s, the young man loses all perspective.

It’s obvious to everyone but George that Kyle is strung-out, out of control and delusional. George fails to sense that anything is amiss when Faye’s not at home; all he can grasp is that someone who’s made it is close enough to touch.

George vainly believes that he and Kyle have bonded and will soon be making the rounds together on the scene. But weeks pass before he gets a call from Kyle – who, not surprisingly, is in trouble. He has been romancing the underage daughter of a studio exec and can’t remember in which hotel room he’s left her tied up while he went to a drug store.

Told in bookended form, the opening section – with George behind bars for some crime against Kyle – is a tantalizing intro that regrettably turns into little more than a structural device. The dilemma that “Starf*cker” can’t seem to avoid is keeping the material light and free of the ghoulish, predatory qualities that traditionally come with this territory. Focusing on users and abusers, pic lacks sufficient humor and humanity in its central characters, leaving the audience without a a rooting interest, and the story’s resolution is more cynical than satisfying.

Kennedy’s character – though well observed – grates on one’s nerves. He’s never specifically outed, but his theatricality and fawning behavior provide a closeted sexual leitmotif that intrudes in rather unpleasant fashion. Dean, who also nails his role with precision, is much too self-consumed in his perf to shoulder the focus of the piece. Supporting players are effective, if briefly drawn, though Clarence Williams III, as George’s public defender, manages an appropriately droll posture that leavens the picture.

Enbom is very much a talent in the raw; he can pull off inspired flashes but is not yet able to tie up all the threads into a cohesive whole. Pic’s presentable tech credits neither elevate nor undo the narrative.

Starf*cker

(COMEDY)

Production: A Persistent Pictures presentation in association with Bandeira Entertainment of a King/Flynn/Simchowitz and Dan Stone production. Produced by Jonathan King, Beau Flynn, Stefan Simchowitz. Executive producers, Dan Stone, Henry M. Shea. Directed, written by John Enbom.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Patrick Loungway; editor, J. Kathleen Gibson; music, Cristophe Beck; production designer, Andrew Cahn; costume designer, Genevieve Tyrrell; sound (Dolby), Daniel D. Monahan; assistant director, Richard Fox; casting, Sheila Jaffe, Georgianne Walken. Reviewed at L.A. Independent Film Festival, April 19, 1998. Running time: 91 MIN.

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