A scene from 'Lisa Picard Is Famous'
Courtesy Photo
**1/2 stars 90 minutes | Unrated
Opened: Friday, October 5, 2001 (SF)
Directed by Griffin Dunne

Starring Laura Kirk, Nat DeWolf, Griffin Dunne, Daniel London, Joelle Carter

Cameos: Sandra Bullock, Carrie Fisher, Melissa Gilbert, Buck Henry, Spike Lee, Penelope Ann Miller, Charlie Sheen, Fisher Stevens, Mira Sorvino


Mockumentary style should translate well to television.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 01.15.2002


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Mockumentary about a failed actress grappling with her career is ironic and caustic, but forgettable

By Rob Blackwelder

Lisa Picard is a struggling New York actress who has had her 15 minutes and just doesn't realize it yet. She starred in a rather carnal breakfast-in-bed commercial for Wheat Chex that made her notorious and got her fired from her steady job playing "Sally Starfish" in a production that tours elementary schools.

"If the director's cut could be seen, this would be a non-issue," she grouses in "Lisa Picard Is Famous" -- an inept documentary by an under-prepared filmmaker who has decided this starlet is on the verge of being discovered and he's determined to capture the moment when it happens.

In actuality, "Lisa Picard Is Famous" is a mock documentary by actor-director Griffin Dunne ("Practical Magic," "Addicted to Love") -- and a whimsically sardonic concept that just doesn't quite congeal because the movie is more uncomfortable than it is funny.

Lisa (played by Laura Kirk) gladly allows the documentary crew to follow her every move in the weeks before her big TV debut -- as Melissa Gilbert's junkie sister in one scene of a movie-of-the-week -- because, well, exposure is exposure. She smiles artificially for the camera while the dilettantish director (unseen but played by Dunne) asks her fatuous questions. She recalls her acting debut in a junior high production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" as if it had been her first big break. "Even though I was not Jewish, I was really excited," she gushes.

She proudly screens her VHS copy of "A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell," a low-low-low-budget movie in which she played a mute cavegirl (the title is real -- it actually starred Kirk). And she auditions for an Advil commercial targeted to Generation X by putting on lip-gloss and a fake bellybutton ring to "get into character." (Later Lisa fumes that they cast a blonde model "who didn't even come in costume!")

Meanwhile, much to Lisa's chagrin, her wildly untalented gay best friend (Nat DeWolf, who co-wrote the screenplay with Kirk) puts on a one-man show about homophobia in a skid row theater and soon has Charlie Sheen and Spike Lee (playing themselves) knocking down his door for the movie rights.

With its tongue firmly in cheek, "Lisa Picard" has a passably funny-ironic-caustic way of chomping at the bit. But in what seems to be a curse suffered by most mockumentaries, none of it is particularly memorable -- not even the string of cameos (some are feigned interviews on the subject of fame) by the likes of Buck Henry, Carrie Fisher, Penelope Ann Miller, Fisher Stevens, Sandra Bullock and Mira Sorvino.

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