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Going Down in La La Land

Prolific gay writer, director, producer and sometime actor Casper Andreas shows signs of maturing talent with "Going Down in La La Land."

With: Matthew Ludwinski, Allison Lane, Michael Medico, Casper Andreas, John Schile, Jesse Archer, Brent Bailey, Scott DeFalco, Angelina Hong, William Jones, Kurt Scholler, Bruce Vilanch, Perez Hilton, Judy Tenuta, Alec Mapa.

After such prior trivial pursuits as “Slutty Summer” and “A Four-Letter Word,” prolific gay writer, director, producer and sometime actor Casper Andreas shows signs of maturing talent with “Going Down in La La Land,” a creditable if familiar portrait of one aspiring-actor newbie’s disillusioning wade into the rough waters of Hollywood. Based on Andy Zeffer’s novel, pic offers few surprises, the usual modicum of titillation and a wish-fulfillment ending, but it still emerges a polished, entertaining look at biz realities from a gay perspective. Small-scale theatrical release is possible, profitable homevid exposure assured.

All-American boy Adam (Matthew Ludwinski) has just arrived in Los Angeles from New York, crashing at the apartment of acting chum Candy (Allison Lane), a blonde bombshell who’s too young to get cast by the CW but not old enough to give up entirely — a sore point for the fiance (Scott DeFalco) keeping her expensively afloat while she does nothing to further her alleged career. Once the fiance storms out, Adam is upgraded to permanent roommate, at a price that necessitates his getting a job pronto.

Adam is hired as receptionist at a talent agency, but fast runs afoul of his prissy gay boss (Jesse Archer) and quits. Cruised at the gym by hunky Nick (Andreas), he’s tipped to another office job on a similar but different entertainment-industry food chain: “Jet Set Men” is a gay porn outfit where Nick works as photographer and sometime director. Both he and CEO Ron (John Schile) pressure clean-cut, handsome Adam to perform before the cameras. Still hoping for a legit career, he holds out at first but eventually consents to a photo shoot, then a solo video, then a regular porn feature.

Lucrative as it is, this isn’t the career he wants, and a way out presents itself when he clicks with escort date John (Michael Medico), the closeted star of a mega-successful sitcom. John offers to take Adam on as his personal assistant, a good gig that might open doors and definitely encourages the romantic frisson between them. Unfortunately, Adam’s brief XXX past makes him easy prey for blackmailers, resulting in a tabloid-fueled scandal for Adam and the employer he’s now in love with.

Some comedic elements are on the shrill side, from some of the supporting turns to campy cameos by Alec Mapa, Perez Hilton and Bruce Vilanch. But the dramatic elements are better handled; Medico is endearing and Andreas is sexy/dangerous in their respective scenes with Ludwinsky, even if Adam as drawn is a bit of an earnest blank slate. While pic occasionally goes over the top in terms of melodrama and gratuitous trouser dropping, it remains well crafted and diverting throughout.

Tech and design aspects are solid on doubtless lean budgetary means.

Going Down in La La Land

Production: An Embrem Entertainment presentation of a La La Land production. Produced by Casper Andreas. Executive producers, Simon Jorna, Mich Lyon, George Taninatz, Gary Russell Coder, Linda Larson. Directed by Casper Andreas. Screenplay, Andreas, based on the novel by Andy Zeffer.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Timothy Naylor; editor, Aleander Hammer; music, Michael Barry; production designer, Shannon Lee Fitzgerald; art director, Katie Shattuck; costume designer, Sarah Mgeni; sound, Jesse Felt; associate producers, Richard Hagerty, Claes Lilja, Darren Ewert, Duane Sikes, A.M. Tolis; assistant director, Regina Gordon; casting, Jeremy Gordon. Reviewed at Frameline (U.S. Features), San Francisco, June 25, 2011. (Also in Outfest, NewFest.) Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Matthew Ludwinski, Allison Lane, Michael Medico, Casper Andreas, John Schile, Jesse Archer, Brent Bailey, Scott DeFalco, Angelina Hong, William Jones, Kurt Scholler, Bruce Vilanch, Perez Hilton, Judy Tenuta, Alec Mapa.

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