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Microfilms presents
Why Can't I Be a Movie Star? (2001)

"Two thousand years ago, a man died for your sins. Now it's payback time!"
- David Hanson, from the trailer for Jesus 2000

Review By: Robert Edwards   
Published: September 14, 2004

Stars: Nick Appleton, Michael Paterson, Albert Nerenberg, Ken Leonard, Nick Sutcliffe, Erick Marier
Other Stars: Brooke D'Orsay, Tanya Pillay
Director: Albert Nerenberg

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, sex, violence)
Run Time: 01h:02m:01s
Release Date: September 14, 2004
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Okay, hands up, everyone who's seen a great trailer, only to be disappointed by the movie. Among that sea of hands I can see those of the Canadian funsters from www.trailervision.com, who decided that trailers are an art form in their own right, and have created parodies of real trailers as well as ones "for movies that don't exist" on their website. They've also compiled some of their best and released them as a short feature.

Why Can't I Be a Movie Star? does have a plot of sorts, revolving around the "Goop Guy" (Nick Appleton), so called because of his many commercials for Goop soda. He's bitter that he can't get a starring role in a movie instead of being billed as "Some Guy," and spends most of the movie complaining about his lot in life. The other plot thread concerns the possible death of movie star Patrick Brannigan (Ken Leonard), who collapsed on the red carpet at a film festival and hasn't been seen in months. The story's about as thin as the ice on a Canadian lake in August, and is just an excuse to throw in a diverse selection of 28 faux trailers, featuring a revolving cast of fake stars, for such non-movies as "No Head", "Switched", "American Booty", and "RaveCops".

The trailers are, appropriately enough, done in a wide variety of styles. They're all skillfully put together, with great editing, graphics, and sound and music, and it's obvious that a lot of thought and energy went into their making. The problem is, most of them just aren't that funny. There are a few that made me laugh, such as "Gangstaz in Love" and its urban homoeroticism, the "gender-bender fender-bender" husband-and-wife body swap of "Switched", "Pourquoi?"'s affectionate satire of the French New Wave, and the ultra-violence of "Lance Banyon vs. the Ku Klux Klan". But most of the trailers are at best intermittently amusing, and rely more on quick cuts and special effects to make an impression, rather than clever humor. There are also a few fake commercials, and probably the low points of the entire disc are the sniggering grade school juvenility of "Intimacy School" and "The University of Sex".

Perhaps it's unfair to judge this collection solely on the number of chuckles it induces. In the extras, we learn more about the philosophical underpinnings (if they can be called that) of compressing a movie down into 90 seconds, and more about their fake stars, and which real-life actors they were patterned after. Humor is certainly subjective, but it's a little telling that the text biographies of the stars, included on the disc as an extra, are far funnier than the entirety of the feature they're meant to support.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The trailers are assembled from a wide variety of source materials, and the video footage that went into them looks anywhere from great to downright awful. Some of it's full frame, and some is letterboxed in a variety of aspect ratios. The segments that stitch the trailers together, filmed on digital video, look good, but the skin tones are off and the black levels aren't very deep. It's obvious, however, that these aren't faults in the transfer, but in the source.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The two-channel mix is surprisingly good, with reasonable separation and good dynamic range, but varies from trailer to trailer.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Trailervision: The Movie, Stupidity, Escape to Canada, The Weathermen, It's a Riot
15 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Albert Nerenberg, Nick Appleton, Ken Leonard
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. "View Trailers" Selection Screens
  2. The Hoax
  3. Outtakes
Extras Review: Two text pages provide access to each of the 28 trailers/commercials, and a Play All option is provided. A trailer for the feature itself, as well as several other movies directed by Nerenberg are included. Nerenberg's also the creator and director of the Trailervision website, and in his 9m:27s interview, he talks about his inspiration for the site and its eventual rise to fame. There are text screen biographies for eight of the fake movie stars, and they're pretty funny. There's also 13m:23 seconds of deleted scenes from the new footage shot for the movie, mostly interviews which are occasionally amusing, as well as 3m:41s of outtakes of the actors flubbing their lines and yukking it up. Something called "Opening Night at the Bloor Cinema" is mentioned on the disc jacket, but is nowhere to be found. The jacket also claims that there are 20 easter eggs, but after discovering that the first five or so were more variants on the lame "Goop" commercials, I gave up the hunt.

A continuous commentary is provided by Nerenberg and actors Ken Leonard and Nick Appleton. I don't think they'll take offense at me calling the first 15 minutes or so a complete waste, since one of them mentions at that point that the guy in the control booth has just told them they're being "idiots." They settle down a bit and start to provide a lot more information, such as their guerilla shooting methods and the locations used for the videos, as well as their long-distance collaborations with some of their creative partners. The commentary isn't really that interesting, and the information presented could have been easily condensed down into a few minutes.

There is one great extra here. In 2000, the Trailervision gang crashed an exclusive party at the Toronto International Film Festival with one of their "stars," complete with limo, fans and entourage. There's a brief explanation of the reasons behind their scam by Nerenberg, as well as 5m:13s of the event itself, and it's laugh-out-loud funny.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

The flimsiest of plots stitches together 28 faux movie trailers in Why Can't I Be a Movie Star?, but you'll probably be gently amused rather than laughing out load. However, there are copious extras and the transfer is good.


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