Welcome to L.A., written and directed by Alan Rudolph, is a fantastically effective natural sleep aid. I gather the film has a bit of a cult following, which is presumably why MGM has made this available as a “DVD-R on demand” release. The numerous recognizable actors who populate the cast will help to ensure on-going interest. But, honestly, this turgid bore of a movie was a chore for me to endure.
It’s not that I expect action-packed excitement from every movie I see. But Welcome to L.A. really tried my patience with its aimless shaggy dog story. The plot, what little there is, revolves around a group of vaguely interconnected Los Angeles residents. Carroll Barber (Keith Carradine) is a singer working on new material while having flings with nearly every woman he comes into contact with. His dad, Carl (Denver Pyle), is a successful businessman who has little respect for his vagabond-like son.
Among Carl Barber’s employees is Ken Hood (Harvey Keitel), who is dedicated and driven to acquiring as big a slice of the business pie as possible. Ken has a troubled marriage with his wife, Karen (Geraldine Chaplin), who is convinced that due to a chronic cough she is near death. Filling out the cast are Sally Kellerman as a real estate agent, Lauren Hutton as a photographer, and Sissy Spacek as a topless housekeeper. These characters all bounce off one another in the dullest ways possible (with the exception of the topless housekeeping, of which there is unfortunately precious little).
It would be nearly impossible to talk about Welcome to L.A. without mentioning the music. Richard Baskin, son of Baskin Robbins co-founder Burt Baskin, pops up throughout the film as a recording artist. His songs are heard non-stop throughout the movie. Baskin wrote some of the songs for Robert Altman’s Nashville. Altman produced Welcome to L.A., so I assume that’s how he got the job. But after hearing Baskin’s monotonous singer-songwriter stylings for an hour and a half, I felt like organizing a boycott of Baskin Robbins just to spite the family name. Simply put: the music in Welcome to L.A. is laughably bad. At least it provided those laughs, as nothing else in the movie is vaguely humorous (ignore any claims that this is a comedy).
Issued on DVD-R only, Welcome to L.A. is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. Be forewarned, the video quality is barely adequate for today’s high definition standards. Print flaws are frequent, there is very little depth to the black level, and the whole movie has a yellowed, faded look. Okay, the last part might have been intentional. I think maybe cinematographer David Myers was instructed to make it look as if the L.A. smog had even infiltrated the interiors.