Picks and Pans Review: An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn

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

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

Ryan O'Neal, Richard Jeni, Eric Idle

Is there anything worse than a satire that isn't funny? Maybe having to eat liver every night for dinner, but that's about it. And, as with eating liver, watching the lame-o gags in An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn, a purported satire about Hollywood filmmaking, is gag-inducing.

The movie is a mock documentary about the making of a $200 million big-studio turkey called Trio. The movie within a movie stars Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg and Jackie Chan, all of whom indeed show up to smirk and play along. Trio's director (Idle) is named Alan Smithee, which is unfortunate for him since his name is the same one that the Directors Guild of America—in both reel and real life—insists be used on a film's credits if the actual director is so ashamed of a finished film that he (or she) begs off being listed. What's our Smithee to do when Trio, thanks to the meddling of a thuggish producer (O'Neal, in Smithee's slyest performance), turns out worse than The Postman?

Joe Eszterhas, best known for such leering travesties as Basic Instinct and Showgirls, wrote this lead balloon and has the chutzpah to appear in a cameo. Smithee was directed by ex-DGA president Arthur Hiller (Beverly Hills Cop III) who—isn't it ironic?—wisely excised his name from the final credits. The director of record now on An Alan Smithee Film? Alan Smithee. (R)

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