March 28, 1994 12:00 PM

Joe Pesci, Christian Slater

This unfocused, self-important comedy is the least amusing film by the usually astute director Barry Levinson.

Pesci plays a failing Hollywood actor desperate enough to buy ad space on a bus stop bench to promote his nonexistent career. He continually whines about what a “strong” actor he is and how nobody appreciates him. Slater has a role to suit his phlegmatic, ironic style as Pesci’s dimwit buddy.

The plot is triggered when Pesci’s car radio is stolen. To catch the culprit he hides on the street so he can videotape the thief committing another crime, then send the tape to the police. When he does track down the crook, the event becomes a media sensation, and Pesci issues a statement pretending to be the head of a vigilante movement. As the fiction runs away from (and with) him, Pesci comes to see the situation as a performance. Levinson treats Pesci’s notoriety as a serious redemption, as if his career failure had to do with anything other than his lack of talent and luck.

The director, discussing the movie in production notes supplied to the media, demonstrates a stretch to impress Plastic Man: “Ultimately, the mythology of Hollywood also pertains to our country, to every troubled city where many dreams have died.” A similar tone of sobriety afflicts most of Jimmy Hollywood. (PG-13)

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