A review of “The Last Shot” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for language and nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

 

 

Law enforcement meets the glitter of Hollywood in this lightweight but clever comedy about dreaming big.

A clever title sequence establishes the kitschy tone. Alec Baldwin is low-rent FBI man Joe Devine who’s sick and tired of burning the midnight oil in Podunk wherever. When his beloved pooch Sacha commits doggie suicide by drowning herself in the Jacuzzi, Joe snaps.

Determined to make a break and throw it down with the big boys in New York or Jersey, Joe hits on an idea. Take down infamous mob boss John Gotti and his minion Tommy Sands (Tony Shaloub) by staging a faux movie production.  Say what? 

The feds will make the film on the East Coast, thus dragging out the local mob and tripping them up on their mistakes. The elaborate undercover sting has disaster written all over it, from illegal teamsters to FBI nobodies getting their feet wet in the “glamour” of filmmaking.

First step is to find a script; since this is Hollywood everyone from the gardener to the dentist has one.  Second step is to land a director, preferably one a few sandwiches shy of a picnic. Enter mild-mannered stooge Steven Schatz (Matthew Broderick), who takes tickets at Mann’s Chinese and dreams of turning his screenplay Arizona – the real-life story of his sister’s death from cancer -- into a feature-length film.

Hilarity ensues as Joe gets a little too caught up in his role as Arizona’s  producer and Steven stubbornly clings to his vision, even while Joe not-so-subtly suggests that Arizona might be better suited to Providence, Rhode Island.

From the riotous location scouting to the Bureau agents falling prey to their roles as Hollywood players, Shot keeps the chuckles coming. Toni Collette is priceless as spiritual burn-out nee A-list actress Emily French. The movie that’s never going to be made is a riot of mistakes far to the left of the learning curve.

Based on a true story (!), Shot occasionally treads shaky ground but weathers the flat notes and emerges a comic winner.