Review: Clark Gregg’s ‘Trust Me’ is fun but gets convoluted

Clark Gregg as Howard in the movie "Trust Me."
Clark Gregg as Howard in the movie “Trust Me.”
(Starz Digital Media)

The inside-Hollywood dramedy “Trust Me” contains so much terrific writing, acting and observation that it becomes a bit easier to forgive writer-director-star Clark Gregg when his ambitions best him during the movie’s convoluted last third.

Gregg is a deft, busy actor perhaps best known these days for playing Marvel’s Agent Phil Coulson on TV’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and in such films as “Iron Man,” “Thor” and “The Avengers.” He’s also a guy who clearly knows the “business of show” and effectively flays it here without excessive parody or concoction.

“Trust Me” spends a few roller coaster days with Howard Holloway (Gregg), a former child-actor-turned-kids'-talent-agent who happens upon a last-ditch opportunity to save his sinking career. Howard’s endgame: to represent Tinseltown newcomer Lydia (Saxon Sharbino, great), a precocious but genuinely talented 13-year-old up for the lead in a “Twilight"-type movie franchise.

Even with a lifetime’s worth of tricks up his sleeve, can the nervy Howard successfully close Lydia’s potentially rich deal while swimming with sharks such as steely film producer Agnes (Felicity Huffman), wily casting director Meg (Allison Janney) and grabby rival agent Aldo (Sam Rockwell)?


Then there’s Lydia’s boozy, hostile father, Ray (Paul Sparks). He’s a loose cannon with fuzzy intentions who gets caught up in a table-turning scheme that threatens Lydia’s big break — and sets Howard’s moral compass spinning. Unfortunately, this noirish, fence-swinging twist proves contrived and confusing and sends the picture into less satisfying territory.

Still, Gregg, who adapted and directed the 2008 black comedy “Choke,” keeps things moving apace and juggles with aplomb his nimble cast, which also includes Amanda Peet, William H. Macy, Molly Shannon, Niecy Nash and young Griffin Gluck.


“Trust Me.”

MPAA rating: R for language.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD.