If you like "Friends," you may like this movie. At two hours, it's
like six episodes of a sitcom about young New Yorkers trying to make
it - and each other.
The story is about an actor - the very essence of an ersatz person -
looking for something authentic in the world: namely, a woman whose
pubic hair proves her veracity, honesty, upworthiness and value.
Gimme a break! To check out her blondness, he's got to get in her
pants, and so the subject of The Real Blonde is the worst kind of
After Living in Oblivion, we know to expect satire from Tom DiCillo.
This is not satire, which requires sharp, off-center attitude.
Attitude is everything. No, this is a studio movie, bloated by its
own budget and careful not to be too sharp. The main problem is that
DeCillo fails to make these people sufficiently interesting that you
can watch them for more than a few scenes. That's why it's perfect
sitcom stuff. It sustains exactly the length necessary to get you
from a Japanese car commercial to a German beer commercial - the
essential attention span of Generation X.
Joe and Mary are having money problems. He's a waiter with a disdain
toward the kind of acting gigs available to him. She's a make-up
artist who flatters the models she daubs. Mary can't get Joe to pay
his share of the rent, and you can't really blame her for going out
with Denis Leary, her smarmy self-defense trainer. He's very
available - in a red corvette - and his quasi-karate lessons give the
gals the opportunity to slug men, which is more gratifying than most
of life's cheap thrills.
Modine plays Joe as a spoiled brat who thinks he's got a
constitutional right to be famous and no reason to figure out why
humans have to labor for their daily bread. Modine's big moment is an
audition where he delivers Hap's famous monologue from "Death of a
Salesman." This is supposed to show Modine's integrity and why he
feels like any work but thespian exertion is beneath him. So
It is very difficult to feel sorry for actor/waiters yearning to be
free. At least, Modine's chum and fellow actor Bob (Max Caulfield),
who makes a living once he lands a role in one of those detestable
soaps, is supposed to be a jerk. We can laugh at him. But we don't,
because he's pathetic. His obsession with models - blonde models! -
ultimately leaves him impotent. And he, too, feels like a failure.
Better men than DiCillo have tried to parody soap opera, and it's
strangely resilient to middlebrow snobs. Darryl Hannah feels perfect
in her soap scenes - too perfect. And Bridgette Wilson is entirely
credible as the supermodel with brains smaller than her lips. It's
all too spot-on. And it really fails to be funny when the supermodel
shows up with a black eye and a phony story about the accident with
the guy's elbow. You can feel sorry for beautiful women, but you
can't make fun of them for being dim-witted and call it a
What is The Real Blonde trying to do? Apparently, sheer entertainment
is not enough, since it bites the hand that feeds it. If a woman's
use of hair color is to symbolize everything that is fake and wrong
with our culture, then these boys need to think a little harder about
the problems - even look in the mirror.
What is at the root of our celebrity obsessed, facile and futile love
of the fake? If DiCillo is onto the answer, you'd never know it. In
fact, if he's making something this shallow in order to remain true
to his deepest principles, perhaps DiCillo won't be surprised when a
buncha brainy blonde babes pass over him in their search for The Real
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