I mean, sure, making a film about actors struggling to make it in the system is an age old formula and even antiquated by today’s standards. After all the cheap attempts by Steven Soderbergh with crap like “Full Frontal”, and “Unscripted”, there’s really not much “Ellie Parker” provides in terms of original comedic material spoofing the audition process. Even with Naomi Watts as its star, there’s really nothing to take away from this experience. I was very disappointed after watching “Ellie Parker”. I’d spent many months anxious to see what Watts had up her indie bone, and to discover she really had nothing there, was a true disappointment.
What makes “Ellie Parker” even worse of a movie is that there’s barely any redeeming features to note, including Watts who is just at her worst. Favors to friends will really do you in if you’re not careful. In this annoying, shrill, and incredibly unfunny film, Watts plays Ellie Parker, a wannabe actress who drives back and forth through Hollywood to appear at auditions, and barely ever makes the cut. And that’s basically the entire plot. “Ellie Parker” would like to think it has a more complex plot than that, but it is wrong. It tries to push us in to believing that this actress is having an awakening, but where is it? She’s a despicable person who is vain, self-centered, and does nothing to make us sympathize for her.
She bitches about being in auditions and then gets angry at her agent for not talking her out of it, and then she continues on this loop leading to a surefire brick wall that leaves the writer with nowhere to go with the film or her character. And I heard “Ellie Parker” was supposed to be a comedy, but there was none of that here. It’s one of the un-funniest comedies I’ve seen in a while, and its attempts at laughs are reliant on weird fantasy scenarios connecting to Ellie’s “method”, and throws weird characters at us that are supposed to pepper up Ellie’s life. Ellie on the other hand is never funny, and Watts just can never be funny, regardless of how tight Coffey brings us in on her face. It’s cheap devices that try to gauge the audience that really become prominent throughout the film. Watts just can’t handle comedy; she’s unfunny and has no discernable talent for it.
The extent of her comedy here is vomiting up blue ice cream she’d had hours before (a truly disgusting scene), and crying with her mouth filled with a donut as Coffey goes in tight on her face for the thousandth time to have audiences laughing. Which never works. We’ve just seen this type of film before, almost millions of times, and “Ellie Parker” and it’s self-indulgent air of pretending it’s real life never works. It tries to ride its comedy on awkward pauses, and deadpan humor which was often very weak, and I never understood what the point of it all was. Coffey’s direction is terrible, and boy does he love to go in tight on Watts’ face. And often, while taking it upon himself to insert himself as a character with a cheesy sub-plot that’s never resolved and added for the sake of padding. Watts’ hubris shows through as clear as crystal starring in a rather self-indulgent film that’s neither funny, dramatic, or enlightening and just typical in its plot and unresolved characters. It’s a disappointment plain and simple.