Burn Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film

Year: 1998
Production Co: Cinergi Pictures
Director: Arthur Hiller (Alan Smithee)
Writer: Joe Esterhas
Cast: Eric Idle, Ryan O'Neal, Coolio, Chuck D, Sandra Bernhard, Harvey Weinstein, Stephen Toblowsky, Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, Whoopi Goldberg, Naomi Campbell, Joe Esterhas, Robert Evans, Robert Shapiro, Shane Black, Larry King, Peter Bart, Norman Jewison
I can only attribute the dire reputation this movie has to two things. One is critics who fall sway to the ephemeral field of assumption about a movie being good or bad based on a few cues from their contemporaries when few people have actually seen it.

The other is that it's so embarrassing to Hollywood types by getting things so pitch perfect that a secret PR war has been waged to bury it.

That's the most interesting piece of trivia about it. The most famous piece of trivia is one you'll know if you've ever heard about the movie - about how writer Joe Esterhas wrestled control of the edit from director Arthur Hiller, prompting the latter to disown the project and attribute direction to the all-purpose Writer's Guild of America alias. So it was that Burn Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film became an Alan Smithee film in real life.

It's a satirical mockumentary in which Eric Idle is the inappropriately named Alan Smithee (his real name), a former editor given the reigns on a big budget cop thriller starring Sly Styallone, Jackie Chan and Whoopi Goldberg who all play themselves.

When the studio head and the morally bankrupt producer (O'Neal) hijack the film, Smithee steals the only print and goes insane, ending up locked away in an asylum and leaving The System clamouring to hold things together before the release date. Knowing digs at a million Hollywood institutions are taken, from the 'companion' hired to butter Alan up at lunch (and beyond) so he goes along with the studio's wishes to the Black Panther-like filmmaking duo of The Brothers Brothers who come to his aid.

And each chapter is presented with hilarious intros of characters with handy identifying bullet points on screen ('pimp', 'scum', etc). With more cameos than you can shake a stick at and genuine laughs along with the razor-sharp parody, don't believe the anti-hype. This is one of the best movies about the movies ever.

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