Quick recap: Griffin Mill is a Hollywood studio executive who is sent death threats from an unknown writer he passed over for a script. Being the jerk that he is, the suspects are endless.
Fun (?) fact: None of the celebrity cameos were written into the script. Basically, they just showed up, improvised their lines and got put in the film. Julia Roberts, among others, did her cameo for free.
My thoughts: Oh, Robert Altman, why must you toy so with my emotions? First, you bring me The Long Goodbye, arguably one of my favorite finds on this list but then you disappoint me so deeply with Nashville. My wounds are still healing from that heartbreak. When I saw that The Player was filled to the top with celebrities, my heart sank once again and I longed for the wit that was Elliott Gould.
The beginning of The Player was a hot mess, even more than Nashville with its 30 plus subplots. It was filmed in one long take with actors galore discussing ‘Hollywood’ stuff, most of which went too fast for me to get. It wasn’t until about 10 minutes into the movie that I realized Tim Robbins was the main character. In fact, for at least 2/3 of the film it’s easy to get lost in the sea of characters and to forget that there really is a plot. Most of the time it just felt like Altman was bragging about all of the cool friends he has.
Tim Robbins’ performance was perfect and I’m a little surprised why so many people look to Shawshank Redemption as his best, when it is clearly this movie. No one can play asshole quite like he can. I enjoyed seeing him slip further and further into the role of slimy Hollywood studio executive until he was completely gone.
The only saving grace for this film came from the most unlikeliest of places: Lyle Lovett. Yes, THAT Lyle Lovett.
He wasn’t onscreen too often, but when he did appear, I loved every minute. I should note here that The Player is considered a comedy, a fact I find most surprising since I didn’t find much to laugh at. I think part of the issue is that the comedy relies so heavily on the cameos, most of which I either didn’t recognize or care about. It kind of reminded me of watching Golden Girls as a kid. Most of the references were so specific to the time period in which the show took place that it took away from the hilarity a bit. Lyle Lovett, however, kept me interested until the very end. Someone should make a movie starring just him in this role. I’d pay good money to see that.
Final review: 2/5. I get the larger theme that this is a parody of what goes on in Hollywood, but since I’m not a studio executive, the humor was lost on me.
Up next: a Ferris Bueller Quote-A-Long at the Drafthouse!