Hollywood Buddha

Hollywood Buddha got some great publicity when Buddhists began protesting its poster.  On the poster, writer/director/star Philippe Caland sits atop the head of a Buddha statue.  This enraged many Buddhists, who demanded a change in the poster and asked people to boycott the movie.  The poster was changed, but the mini-controversy managed to bring loads of attention to a film that would otherwise be ignored by the public at large.  Hollywood Buddha is one of those small films that appear in art houses than usually disappear a few weeks later.  Worse, it is one of those films about the problems of making films.  The good news is that while every sign points to a bad film, it's not as bad as it would seem.  Granted, it's not that good to begin with, but hey, it's a start.

Caland plays a guy named Philippe, a writer/director who is trying to sell his movie.  This may or may not be autobiographical, but it unwittingly adds to a sense of pretension.  Anyway, five years ago, Philippe made a movie titled Dead Girl.  He has unsuccessfully tried to sell it since, to no avail.  In the meantime, the star (Nikki Stadler) is now a superstar, and his partially built house sits unfinished, with contractors demanding payment.  So what does Philippe do? He rents out a Buddha statue for $2K a month to try and sort things out in his life.

The Philippe character is something. Watching Hollywood Buddha is like watching a train wreck. It's hard to turn away. Philippe is holding on to his old dream, refusing to let go. Everybody else has long moved on. The problem with Philippe is that he's kind of an idiot. He is the cause of all his problems. He has no money, yet shells out a huge amount to rent a statue. He keeps trying to sell this movie (that seems like a piece of crap) instead of doing something else. While Hollywood Buddha is very predictable, and has an overall so-so quality to it, it is not boring. Watching Philippe's actions does keep one interested in the film, although most of the time people will be sitting agape wondering how he has lasted this long.

This is a family affair for Caland, who hired his mother, wife, and brother to play parts. His wife Betsy Clark (Loved, Boxing Helena) plays his neighbor Betsy, who is also an attractive single mother. The character of Philippe undergoes the same sort of journey that Bernie Mac's did in Mr. 3000, and many other characters undergo. It's also amusing that while this takes place in Los Angeles, Hollywood Buddha contains a huge number of French speaking characters (because of all the relatives). Spanish would be much more likely, but hey, it's Caland's movie.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.

1 hour, 39 minutes, French and English with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some language, most likely an R.

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