We’ve seen it several times before. A group of people tries to be successful in a big city, only to have several curveballs thrown their way as they venture on a journey of self-discovery. This traditional indie movie fodder could easily become an unoriginal concept in the hands of inexperienced filmmakers.
Hollywood Musical!, from Force Studios, is not one of these films.
Produced, written, and directed by Alexander Baack, the film follows a group of connected forty-somethings as they try to make it in Hollywood while enduring personal and professional struggles. As the film’s title suggests, this also involves them occasionally bursting into song. The characters include a former film executive’s secretary and his wife (Alexander Baack and his real-life wife, Hillary Baack) as they struggle with growing debts. Meanwhile, the audience also follows a screenwriter (Stefan Lingenfelter) who can’t sell his script, his actress girlfriend who doesn’t believe in him (Angela Pupello), an unlucky-in-love struggling actress (Dee Ann Newkirk), and a producer looking for her next project (Beth Lane).
Sure, the plot may sound like a dreary independent film, but one undeniable trait Hollywood Musical! possesses is passion behind the project. Inspired by his own Hollywood frustrations, Alexander Baack creates an upbeat musical with relatable characters audiences will root for. Whether you’re in your forties or your twenties, you will likely find a character just like you.
What lends to the authentic voice behind Hollywood Musical! is the way the actors portray versions of themselves (most of the cast share the same name as their respective characters). While none of them has the most amazing singing voice, their delivery of each song comes from a genuine place. It’s impossible not to feel a little emotional when you hear the cast perform “Something’s Gotta Give,” where the characters sing about their inner turmoil and sadness from not having any luck. And you will definitely find “La La Land” to be catchy, even if you do find it to be a little annoying.
However, songs such as Beth Lane’s “I Could Kill You,” sung with a hip-hop beat, come off a little flat, and it’s unclear whether it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or a serious hip-hop tune. These are actual lyrics: “And I’ll be here with open arms. Yes, I will. A motherf*cking Glock cocked in both palms. And I’ll unload on your pasty white ass and watch your hide explode out on the grass.”
The soundtrack may not win any Grammys and the film may not win any Oscars, but what Hollywood Musical! succeeds in is delivering a timeless message audiences always need to hear: “It’s Not the End of the World,” no matter how difficult life can get.
If you don’t like musicals, Hollywood Musical! will not make you into a fan. But if you are looking for a positive, feel-good movie with catchy tunes, look no further.
Hollywood Musical! is currently available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, VUDU and Xbox.