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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 02/26/1998,

An Alan Smithee Film -- Burn Hollywood Burn

"Alan Smithee" is Hollywood's dirty little moniker inserted into a film's credits when a disgruntled director doesn't want his name associated with an inevitable dud. So what happens if your name really is Alan Smithee? That's the kind of dumb fun this mockumentary aims for as it spoofs the inner circle of Hollywood's notorious film biz.

Eric Idle is a delightfully discombobulated mess as Smithee, the British import who jumps hook, line, and sinker at the chance to direct a mega-budget actioner staring Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, and Whoopi Goldberg. Entitled Trio, the film is an overproduced dog that strands Smithee behind the camera as little more than a pawn. Humiliated and left with no legitimate way to strike his name from the picture, the neurotic auteur steals the film and goes on the lam, leaving the crew of mockumentarians and his bullish producers frantic and in the lurch.

Written by the king of Hollywood overindulgence, Joe Eszterhas (Show Girls), Burn Hollywood Burn is surprisingly coherent, but a handful of insider chuckles and a bevy of star-powered cameos can't hide this slapstick emulation of The Player from what it really is: a shameless exercise in self-flagellation. At the Nickelodeon and the Kendall Square.

-- Tom Meek