The Real Blonde

on February 27, 1998 by Christine James
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   Writer/director Tom DiCillo's "The Real Blonde" is similar in theme, tone and humor to his well-received 1995 release "Living in Oblivion" in its satiric behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry. While "Oblivion" focused on the frustrations of being an independent filmmaker, "The Real Blonde" takes the frustrated actor's point of view. Even more frustrated than the actor, Joe (played by Matthew Modine), however, is his long-time girlfriend, Mary (Catherine Keener), whose patience with her perennially impoverished paramour is beginning to run out.
   Keener is winsome as the beleaguered bread-winner who must also deal with the vapid models she works with as a make-up artist, and her resentment towards the obnoxious men who invade her life. Modine's Joe is the weak link in the film--he's generally devoid of charisma, bordering on mildly repellant in his immature manner and lack of talent. Occasionally the character redeems himself with some above-and-beyond-the-call noble actions, but they are unfortunately adulterated by the disdain caused by his less appealing traits.
   Entwined with Joe and Mary's plights are other twisted tales of life in the business, including the clueless sorrows of supermodel Sahara (Bridgette Wilson), the aspirations of an actress (Elizabeth Berkley) whose biggest role to date has been body doubling for Madonna, and the quest of a vain soap star (Maxwell Caulfield) to bed a "real blonde."
   Some well-chosen celebrity cameos are enlivening, including Marlo Thomas as a qualmless photo director who takes the "sex sells" maxim to new limits (in an amusing contrast to the actress' real-life feminist bent); Denis Leary as a sensitive self-defense instructor; Christopher Lloyd as a whip-cracking headwaiter; Steve Buscemi (who starred in "Oblivion") as the director of a particularly insipid music video; and Kathleen Turner as a callous agent. The humor is sharp throughout, but jokes and sardonic observations would have been better delivered by a more likable hero.    Starring Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, Maxwell Caulfield, Bridgette Wilson, Elizabeth Berkely and Daryl Hannah. Written and directed by Tom DiCillo. Produced by Marcus Viscidi and Tom Rosenberg. A Paramount release. Rated R for sexuality and language. Running time: 105 min.
Tags: Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, Maxwell Caulfield, Bridgette Wilson, Elizabeth Berkely and Daryl Hannah. Written and directed by Tom DiCillo. Produced by Marcus Viscidi and Tom Rosenberg. A Paramount release
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