Picks and Pans Review: The Real Blonde

updated 03/09/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/09/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Matthew Modine, Maxwell Caulfield, Catherine Keener, Daryl Hannah

No matter what your hair color, it's true that you'll have more fun seeing The Real Blonde than you've had at most recent movies. The latest comedy from writer-director Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion), Blonde is a fizzy romp through the lives of some of the more beautiful but shallow folks who toil in Manhattan's entertainment and fashion industries. Like the superficial worlds it satirizes, Blonde is skin-deep but is built on solid funny bones.

Joe (Modine), still a fledgling actor at 35, and Mary (Keener), a successful makeup artist, have been living together in a cramped apartment for six years. Although supportive of Joe, Mary is growing weary of her honey's being so picky about roles that he has no real credits, no agent and barely makes a living as a waiter. The movie follows Joe's bumbling attempts to sell out by appearing in a Madonna video, while also tracking the overlapping and intersecting lives of Joe and Mary's friends and colleagues. This crew includes a soap stud (Caulfield), two actresses (Daryl Hannah and Elizabeth Berkley) and a supermodel (Bridgette Wilson).

Of the talented ensemble cast, Keener (who has now starred in all four of DiCillo's films) shines most brightly, giving a luminous performance as a sensible woman temporarily ajangle. Caulfield, Hannah and, especially, Wilson also perform well, while Modine seems somehow dopier and wimpier than his role requires. Popping up briefly to good comic effect are Marlo Thomas as a predatory fashion photographer ("That's what I want: abs, abs, abs!" she purrs at her male models) and Kathleen Turner as an impatient casting agent. (R)

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