Hollywoodland Allen Coulter

The death of George Reeves gets the Hollywood Babylon treatment in this pretender to the Chinatown throne, too bad it doesn’t have the juice to make the tragedy memorable. Adrien Brody plays a too-seedy-for-words private eye who’s enlisted by Reeves’s mother to challenge the ruling of suicide on the death certificate. Flashbacks give us the rise and fall of the Superman star (well played by Ben Affleck) and are inter-cut with Brody’s digging to find the truth. What is the role of the society lady (Diane Lane) who used him as a kept man? What about her much older husband (Bob Hoskins) and his reputation for playing hardball with enemies? And what about the venal girlfriend (Robin Tunney) for whom he spurned his benefactor? There’s no denying the story’s sick fascination but unfortunately, neither director Allen Coulter nor writer Paul Bernbaum are capable of giving it presence as a movie. There’s a vague attempt to ape film noir and snappy dialogue (with awkward lines like, "You know what he is? A catfish. Go clean the mud out of your whiskers.”) but it never seems rooted in a point of view and just makes the film seem ridiculous. And it’s not even silly enough to achieve camp status; one watches half-asleep as Brody goes through the tortuous motions of fighting the good fight while tediously juggling a wife and a lover and missing out on his son’s life. It’s not bad enough to be good, just bad enough to be boring. Extras include an extremely thorough director’s commentary, three brief but informative featurettes on the production, the ’50s Hollywood milieu and the research that went into recreating it, and a deleted scenes reel. (Alliance Atlantis)