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No pleasure, guilty or otherwise, in reality TV satire 'The Next Big Thing'

No pleasure, guilty or otherwise, in reality TV satire 'The Next Big Thing'
Brad Culver, left, and Jonney Ahmanson in the movie "The Next Big Thing." (Indie Rights)

Re-creating the experience of being stuck at a party filled with terrible people — without any free drinks — "The Next Big Thing" is 84 minutes of unpleasantness. This comedy is populated by terrible characters, whose only saving grace is that they aren't real people (nor do they feel like real people).

While aspiring actor Julian (Brad Culver) cashes checks from a call center in Los Angeles, his real passion is for doing tasteless impressions in YouTube videos. His friend Chuck (Jonney Ahmanson) promises to make him a star, and he begins filming every moment of Julian's life. As Chuck increasingly invades Julian's privacy, he wonders if fame is worth the sacrifice as his life falls apart.

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Shot largely like a documentary, "The Next Big Thing" takes a meta approach to its story, including the casting of real-life stars Jonathan Lipnicki, James Kyson and Lauren Francesa as themselves. There are a few early laughs, but the film from first-time director Brody Gusar is a tonal mess with feelings of disgust as its sole constant.

For those who find reality television mindless and cruel, watching "The Next Big Thing" would do little to dissuade them from their opinion. This indie comedy is like the genre at its worst, without the addictive drama that might classify it as a guilty pleasure.

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‘The Next Big Thing’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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