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Ellie Parker

(2005) ** 1/2 Unrated
94 min. Strand Releasing. Director: Scott Coffey. Cast: Rebecca Rigg, Scott Coffey, Mark Pellegrino, Blair Mastbaum (II), Chevy Chase.

Scott Coffey's Ellie Parker isn't quite tossed-off, but it never quite digs in, either. The subject is Hollywood, and surprise! Coffey finds it soul-sucking and shallow. Coffey's co-producer Naomi Watts stars in the digital-video comedy, shot in small pieces that range from before her Mulholland Dr. break to after her casting in King Kong. When her titular actress explains, "I don't know who I am," a friend replies, "Maybe what you do is who you are." The question of vocation is somewhat intriguing: who is she if not a actress, and who is she if she is an actress? Mirrors, costumes, masks, and makeup fill the struggling actor's itinerant life, spent in hotel suites and cars. But Ellie Parker suffers from too little plot, enough only to host a few good jokes; actors and Hollywood types are liable to laugh loudest at scenes of shoplifting and an impromptu crying competition. Watts' performance is brave and jazzy, but Coffey's riffing lacks lasting impact.

[For Groucho's interview with director Scott Coffey, click here.]

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