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Movie review: 'L.A. Superheroes' is well-meaning but weak

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"L.A. Superheroes" was an obvious labor of love for Serbian-born actress-model Yelena Popovic, who stars, co-directed (with husband-cinematographer Alexandros Potter), wrote the shaggy script (with co-star Alexander Zisiades) and was a producer on this occasionally insightful and amusing Tinseltown tale apparently inspired by her own life. Sadly, she should have kept a "story by" credit and handed the creative reins over to more competent folks.

Hard-luck, often clueless Helena (Popovic), thwarted in her career as a model and actress in L.A. due to her undocumented immigrant status, deadbeat manager (Catherine Carlen) and, one suspects, limited acting chops, buys a forged birth certificate from oily crook Joey (Vince Palmieri) so she can obtain a passport to work abroad. The FBI busts her but offers a deal if she'll reveal her "supplier." Stuck, Helena names names, but spends the rest of the film mainly in the company of her obnoxious musician-pizza delivery guy buddy, Auto (Zisiades), waiting to get "whacked" by would-be thug Joey.

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Unfortunately, the movie is more of a random yakfest between Helena and Auto than the zippy comic thriller it may have intended. It's also padded with too many extraneous bits given its brief running time (end-credit outtakes? Really?).

Spotty acting, flashes of crass dialogue, some questionable camera work and awkward storytelling — including a surfeit of phone conversations — further sink this well-meaning effort.

— Gary Goldstein

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"L.A. Superheroes"

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood; AMC's Burbank Town Center 8.

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