A Hollywood satire with all the teeth of a Gerber spokesbaby, “Pretty Bad Actress” takes aim at celebrity culture — and misses. Written and directed by first-time feature director Nick Scown, the would-be comedy is a tonal disaster from a jumbled mess of a script. It doesn’t actually offer much commentary on the entertainment business and offers even less actual entertainment.
Gloria Green (Heather McComb) is the type of child star who gets recognized everywhere she goes — and asked to sing her show’s theme song — but she struggles to get new acting work and pay her long-suffering assistant, Cheryl (Jillian Bell). Gloria thinks she’s hit rock bottom, but her life gets worse when she is kidnapped by a mustachioed stalker (John Hensley). Held alongside teenage fan Dawnee (Stephanie Hodes), the actress only wants to survive her captivity. Meanwhile, her agent (Danny Woodburn) sees the crime as an opportunity to revitalize her career.
“Pretty Bad Actress” feels as though it’s been sitting on a shelf for a while (the widespread presence of flip phones serving as a dead giveaway), but its stale jokes likely wouldn’t get laughs regardless of the year it was released. The always-funny Bell, now recognizable for roles in “22 Jump Street” and “Rough Night,” deserves a better film, and so does the audience.
‘Pretty Bad Actress’
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood