A charming offshoot of the mid-1960s Czechoslovak Film Miracle was a steady spoofing of Hollywood genre tropes, chief among them Western parody “Lemonade Joe” and youth musical “The Hop Pickers.” Czech hyphenate Vaclav Marhoul revisits concept with stylish yet uneven and overlong hardboiled satire “Smart Philip.” Novelty item for fests is too insular and naive for much theatrical play outside region (pic was a late 2003 hit at home), though bright homevid biz seems likely.
Pic plays off rugged good looks of popular thesp Tomas Hanak as tough-talking Phil Marlowe, hired by stuttering Charlie Brown (Pavel Liska) to find his missing brother. Search leads to aerodynamically correct femme fatale Velma (Vilma Cibulkova) and shady doings among assorted eccentric heavies, singing cops and others. Though packed with irreverent movie references and cameos from succession of current Czech stars (Jaroslav Dusek is a stitch as an excitable film director), real topliner is production designer Jan Vlasak’s evocative studio recreation of 1937 Los Angeles. Helmer Marhoul, who ran Barrandov Studios in the 1990s, adapted from his 1987 play for Prague’s popular Sklep theater troupe; pic is dedicated to Raymond Chandler “with deepest respect.”