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Lisa Picard is Famous

Starring Laura Kirk and Nat DeWolfe
Screenplay by Laura Kirk and Nat DeWolfe
Directed by Griffin Dunne

IN SHORT: Spinal Tap for the Acting biz. [Rated R. 88 minutes]

There are two kinds of documentaries. In one, the filmmaker knows what story he wants to tell and he tells it. Kind of like writing a term paper, only with film.

The other kind is more free form, catch as catch can kind of work. You pick a subject and follow it around, hoping that a story will present itself before you run out of money for film and/or crew salaries (which is why many documentaries have the director doubling up as cameraman). Lisa Picard Is Famous is the latter kind, even if the subject is a fictional character, and it is consistently funny (even if it doesn't quite know how to end its tale).

Following the standard cost cutting measures common to low budget indie films, director Griffin Dunne hires himself, his producer (Mira Sorvino) and their friends (Sandra Bullock, Buck Henry, Fisher Stevens, Carrie Fisher, Spike Lee and Charlie Sheen) to flesh out the cast of unknowns starring in this story of unknowns trying to bust down the doors of the entertainment biz in bustling NYC.

In this story, our rarely seen documentary filmmaker, Andrew (Dunne), has searched far and wide to find that solitary man or woman on the verge of stardom. Who he finds is Lisa Picard (Laura Kirk), an actress with one very hot Wheat Chex commercial and a prominent role in the Melissa Gilbert teevee movie "A Phone Call For Help" under her belt. That teevee movie won't be televised until the third act of our film, which gives us plenty of time to get acquainted with the almost star, her best friend Tate Kelley (Nat DeWolfe) and her supportive (but never named) boyfriend (Daniel London), while we wait for the inevitable moment when Fame will rear its ugly head. Lisa pursues teevee ads as her vehicle to stardom. Tate goes the one man show route, his called "Hate Crimes and Broken Hearts" (which we'd paraphrase as "Homophobia and Me"). Lisa is there to cheer her friend on which, given what we learned from our time in the pits, should do more to cheer her up. We saw many good actors team with bad actors because it gave more "perspective" to their careers (even if that perspective was a twisted one). Lisa is so innocent that we cannot ascribe such nastiness to her character. We'll leave it to the "film director" to do that.

As for that small circle of friends, Bullock and Sorvino take real life roles. Henry, Stevens and Fisher do interviews. Gilbert does her movie bit. Sheen and Lee don't show until the inevitable "third act surprise," which involves a real life demonstration of how bad an actor Tate Kelley really is. Even if you figure out the surprise in advance (and you'll see it miles away) screenwriter/stars Kirk and DeWolfe add another twist to it that we didn't see coming.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Lisa Picard is Famous, he would have paid . . .


We were hurting from laughter. If you know a bit more than the average bear as to how "the biz" operates (and you wouldn't be on this site if you didn't) Lisa Picard is Famous is a side splitter. Everyone else, go for the cameos and be pleasantly surprised.

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