Review: Going Down in La-La Land

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Going Down in La-La Land: Film Review
2:19 PM PDT 4/19/2012 by Frank Scheck
Director Casper Andreas’ gay drama centers on a young acting hopeful who finds that Hollywood is a rough town.

With a title like Going Down in La-La Land, it doesn’t seem likely that Casper Andreas’ film is going to be marked by restraint. But restrained it is, at least compared to such previous gay-themed efforts by the filmmaker as Slutty Summer and The Big Gay Musical. While this tale of a young man who finds himself shocked — shocked! — to discover that sleaze is prevalent in Hollywood doesn’t exactly break any new dramatic ground, it, um, goes down easily enough.
The protagonist of this latest variation on an all-too-familiar theme is Adam (Matthew Ludwinski), a young actor has just arrived in L.A. to pursue his dreams. Rooming with his best friend Candy (Allison Lane) — also an aspiring actor, though one more interested in landing a rich man than a good part — he discovers that, despite his hunky good looks and all-American appeal, the town isn’t immediately ready to fall at his feet.

After dutifully networking at the gym, he lands an office job at “Jet Set Men” which turns out to be, you guessed it, a gay porn outfit. It isn’t long before the financially strapped Adam agrees to his boss’ arguments that his talents would be better showcased in front of the camera, which leads to his moonlighting as a male escort and a relationship with a client (Michael Medico) who is the closeted star of a hit sitcom.

Veering uneasily at times into melodrama — especially with a subplot involving a drug-addicted co-worker (played by director Andreas) who attacks Adam with a knife — La-La Land is more grim than its title would suggest. But it does depict its West Hollywood milieu with a comic, insider’s knowingness, and the cameo appearances by such figures as Bruce Vilanch, comedian Judy Tenuta and actor Alec Mapa (playing himself, dishing out bitchy insults about fellow patrons at a bar) only add to the atmosphere.

Ludwinski, who frequently bares his gym-toned body, is certainly up to the physical demands of his role. And he’s appealing enough to make you cheer for his character in the film’s fairy tale-style ending.

Opens: Friday, April 20 (Embrem Entertainment)
Production: La-La Land Films
Cast: Matthew Ludwinski, Allison Lane, Michael Medico, Casper Andreas, John Schile
Director-producer: Casper Andreas
Screenwriters: Casper Andreas, Andy Zeffer
Executive producers: Bryan Guarnieri, Simon Jorna, Linda Larson, Mich Lyon, George M. Taninatz
Director of photography: Timothy Naylor
Editor: Alexander Hammer
Production designer: Shannon Lee Fitzgerald
Costume designer: Sarah Jeanne Mgeni
Music: Michael W. Barry
No rating, 104 minutes