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Ellie Parker (DVD Review)

1 Mar, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ellie Parker

Prebook 3/17/06; Street 4/11/06
Box Office $0.03 million
$24.99 DVD.
Stars Naomi Watts, Chevy Chase.

I once watched a good low-budget short by the once-obscure Vin Diesel and fellow New York thespians showcasing their (in reality, his) acting chops. Ellie Parker, released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, is a 95-minute extended audition for former unknown actress Watts (King Kong, The Ring, Mulholland Dr.).

It's also good.

The film chronicles the emotional rollercoaster life of fictional actress Parker as she hustles in her car between auditions, sanity and an equally self-absorbed gaggle of friends, casting agents, therapists, receptionists and a loser boyfriend in vapid Los Angeles.

Written and directed by co-actor Scott Coffey, Parker is as much a visual love fest for Watts' striking beauty (undiminished even by a turquoise ice cream facial) and acting prowess (she cries and switches accents and moods on command) as it is an indictment of Hollywood's shallow pretense and those who flock to its incandescent aura of success.

“I remember when the future was a promise,” Parker tells her roommate. “Now, it's like a threat.”

Despite the nonstop conflicts, the film has no real plot or ending, which in a sense underscores the futility of the Hollywood dream.

“I feel as if I'm waiting for my life to start,” Parker tells her therapist. “Maybe I'm afraid to start.”

This film should be a cautionary prerequisite for those seeking the Hollywood dream and a must-see for fans of Watts.

The DVD includes deleted scenes and director's commentary.

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