"An American in Hollywood" likens its protagonist, aspiring filmmaker Josiah (Richard Carroll Jr.), and his crew to comic-book superheroes crusading against the nefarious empire that is Tinseltown.
Hailing from the Cypress Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, Josiah moves west to the La-La Land of opportunity after completing film school at New York University. He lives in a grimy part of North Hollywood, enrolls in grad school, works a telemarketing job to pay the bills and commutes by public transit. The elusive big Hollywood break Josiah has hoped for turns sour, as does his day job.
Meanwhile, Josiah's love interest, Ayoka (Azur-De), shows concern by pestering him with questions instead of offering support. The chorus of doubts from her girlfriends only fuels her insecurity.
The film feels like a more cynical and indie take on urban rom-coms such as "Think Like a Man." There's a lot of truth in writer-director Sai Varadan's observant depictions of the battle of the sexes, the East Coast-West Coast cultural clash and struggling artists in soul-crushing showbiz. Too bad he isn't particularly sympathetic or fair toward his female characters, because there's much to commend otherwise.
"An American in Hollywood."
MPAA rating: R for language, drug use, sexual content.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.