I was left asking the same question when the closing credits began to roll. Going in, I was looking forward to a satire that sank its teeth into the Hollywood machine. Unfortunately, I was left a little cold to the whole piece. There were some funny moments and interesting scenes, but taken as a whole it never really went anywhere. Something tells me that those who like this film the most will be those in the business whose lives are reflected in these frames.
The film is based on a nonfiction book by producer Art Linson titled What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line. The screenplay, also penned by Linson, is a fictionalized account of a producer running into all sorts of issues and roadblocks when trying to get various projects off the ground and completed, not to mention personal issues with a family that is no longer his own.
Robert DeNiro stars as Ben, a hot shot producer suffering from a severe case of bad luck over the two-week span that the movie covers. It all begins with a disastrous initial test screening for his latest film, Fiercely, starring Sean Penn (who plays himself). Everything comes to a head at the end of a film when a dog is killed by a gunshot to the head. Lou (Catherine Keener), the head of the studio, has vowed to take the film away from hotshot director Jeremy Brunell (Michael Wincott) if the film is not reworked to her liking. Her demands are supported by the fact that he does not have final cut.
While Ben tries to cajole and convince Jeremy to change his film, another storm is brewing. This problem involves a new film that Ben needs to get off the ground, which stars Bruce Willis (also playing himself). The problem is that Bruce has shown up with a Grizzly Adams beard and a few extra pounds. The studio backing the film is insisting that Bruce appear in the film beardless, something that is an issue for Bruce who sees this as an artistic choice, one that is an endless cause of headaches for Ben, who is feeling the pressure.