Ben: So what'd you think?
Dick Bell: Well it had a lot of good production...I liked the music.
Despite having De Niro turn in a very good performance, along with a few other key characters in this film, the movie is a fairly tame Hollywood satire that doesn't give way to much more than a few funny moments and Bruce Willis being self depricating.
Robert De Niro stars as Ben, a middle-aged Hollywood producer, ex-husband to two women, father of three, and in the middle of a number of troubles involving two movies and his relationship with his soon to be ex-wife.
One problem involves re-editing a movie that involves the shooting of a dog at the end. This movie was seen at a test screening and now looks to be a huge bomb unless changes are made. This film within the film stars Sean Penn (actually having fun with himself) and was directed by a former drug addict Brit director, played by Michael Wincott.
The second problem for Ben involves a new movie starring Bruce Willis, except Bruce has grown a huge beard and gained weight, based on his own artistic decisions, but has now angered the studios who are threatening to shut down the movie. Ben now has to deal with both Bruce and his agent played by John Turturro.
Finally, Ben must deal with his soon to be ex, played by Robin Wright Penn, who may be cheating on him with a screenwriter played by Stanley Tucci.
All this sounds like a good number of stories that can be balanced in a humorous and satirical fashion, except this movie lacks any energy. The whole thing just goes through the motions without giving it an edge like the film The Player or a sense of zaniness like Bowfinger. Instead, director Barry Levinson follows up his equally lame comedy/thriller Man of the Year with another film that coasts along through its stories. Its a shame, because Levinson has made some great movies, but this one falls into his latter category of missed marks.
Ben: Why don't we start by giving your overblown salary to the Red Cross!