America’s Sweethearts takes facile jabs at marketing machines and dimwitted Hollywood divas, but the only thing it gets right is that the publicity flack will oftentimes forgo human decency in their attempt at hawking and defending their shoddy products. In May of 1999, the Screen Actors Guild specified in their employment figures that roles afforded to Latinos feel from 4.0% in 1997 to 3.5% in 1998, even as the Latino population continued to swell in the country. Hank Azaria, who lends his talents every week to The Simpsons, appears in the film as a Castilian cabana boy, a role which could have gone to any number of unemployed Latino actors in Hollywood, and for a film that presents itself as an insiderish look at the movie business, America’s Sweethearts feels especially stupid for not offering Azaria’s casting as some sort of auto-critique. But it gets worse. Christopher Walken, who does his best work with Abel Ferrara, evokes his muse through Hal Weidmann, an eccentric director who holds the footage from the fictional Time Over Time hostage from the studio Billy Crystal’s publicist character works for. He’s weird and mysterious, with a stringy beard and a languid walk, and the film laughably asks us to believe that Hal has won three Oscars and would be given the reins of an $87 million film. An unlikely story. Now, had Hal Weidmann looked and thought like director Joe Roth, we’d be in business.
- Joe Roth
- Billy Crystal, Peter Tolan
- Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Crystal, Hank Azaria, Seth Green, Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken, Stanley Tucci
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