French fish-out-of-water fare, as a woman tries to save her career in Hollywoo.
Jeanne (Florence Foresti) has made a career for herself as the French voiceover performer for Jennifer Marshall (Nikki Deloach), star of hit series LA Wives. Things take a turn for the worse when Jennifer announces she is living the show, leaving Jeanne with an uncertain future. In a bid to save her career, she goes to Hollywood to try and convince the star not to give up the show, becoming friends with her in the process and forming a bond with local con artist/cheeky chappy Farres (Jamel Debbouze)
Hollywoo is not a film I’d usually circle for viewing on a relaxing Sunday night – that’s something I should say right at the top. It’s a wafer-thin, light as a feather romp designed to give gentle laughs and do very little else. On these terms, and in fairness it never strives for more, it’s hard to complain about the narrative of the film. It goes through every single beat you expect in its journey to an incredibly obvious conclusion.
What is easier to complain about are the specific nuts and bolts which contribute to the construction of the film and I do have a fair few bugbears with this one. The use of “source” music is one which can often date a film or can make it feel tonally inappropriate. The adaptation of Daredevil for instance is a pure example of both, it feeling inherently early noughties in each of its song choices and the music never meshes with the material on screen. While the music in this film is certainly appropriate, lightweight melodic stuff which screams “inoffensive” just as much as the rest of the thing, the director makes the awful choice of having these songs basically seem to be stuck on repeat in the background during the course of many scenes. In particular, I counted three seperate times when the song ‘How To Save A Life’ popped up in the background, with the first being used in one of the most literal ways possible. It’s lazy, borderline incompetent stuff which in a way sums up much of the film.
It’s certainly nice to see an older woman given a lead role, but perhaps not when its given to the rather lacking thespian skills of Florence Foresti. She struggles on many levels, having to mug for the camera on a painful number of occasions in the generic “kooky but oh so cute” role seen in literally hundreds of these kinds of films. But she also has a hard time with the English language required by a film which is largely set in Hollywood, which leads to a really odd mishmash in many scenes, where characters start conversing in French with the other cast members seemingly understanding them despite showing little understanding of French elsewhere. The whole thing just feels so stilted and awkward.
Faring a bit better is Jamel Debbouze, who puts in a somewhat likable performance; this also benefits from not having the typical good-looking type of guy in the role. He’s short and a bit scuzzy, but that feeds into the role well and I must admit, the scene in which he tries to calm down a pair of hyenas got a laugh out of me. It’s not a showstopping performance by any means, but it’s one which seems to have a bit of genuine warmth and energy to it.
There’s not all that much else to say about Hollywoo. For folks who don’t watch all that many films and want something entirely innocuous to put on of an evening, it may well do the job. If you read this site however, I can’t really think of one thing to really push it out there and say give it a chance. It’s just a bad film.
Hollywoo arrives on DVD through StudioCanal who give it a pretty decent 2.35:1 transfer, which shows off the lavish locations well and scrubs up nicely when upscaled to 1080p. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is less impressive – while the dialogue comes through perfectly well, there is barely any rear channel action and I don’t believe my subwoofer kicked into life once. The only extra on the disc is a trailer.
I’ve probably been uncharitable to Hollywoo, but it just felt like it wasted my time and the disc doesn’t really improve matters despite strong video.
Hollywoo is out on DVD Monday 4th June through StudioCanal.