Streaming Review – Zeroville

I’m not sure this film saw an Australian release. I think that it barely even saw an American release. One of the many wonders of this modern world we live in is how with some careful canoodling the geo-restrictions of the past can be circumvented. Using my US iTunes account I was able to have an experience tonight that otherwise I could not have had.

But was it worth it?

Zeroville is a film directed by James Franco who also stars. It was shot in 2014 but only saw release late last year. It had a troubled release and was considered a commercial and critical flop. It received Golden Raspberry nominations and was labelled one of 2019’s worst films.

On the surface it seems hardly worth the effort I went through to watch it.

But luckily for me I found the film very interesting. It sort of hit the notes and had the things I loved about Under The Silver Lake but lacked the execution. It was knowingly meta and hung a mystery on an old Hollywood conspiracy.

Unfortunately Zeroville just didn’t seem fleshed out. It had all these elements there. All these characters. But the connections, the back story, the chemistry was just missing. I’m not sure if the film was edited to its barebones by the distributor who picked it up or if it’s what Franco wanted. I could really see what he was going for but the film couldn’t stick the landing.

I did find things to like though. Megan Fox, Seth Rogen, Jackie Weaver, Will Ferrell, Joey King all were great. A small role by Craig Robinson was super charming. I really enjoyed the characters and liked spending the 96 minutes with them. Overall if more time had been spent with this ensemble and their relationships with one another the whole film would have been better for it.

The film was hard to keep track of for the most part. When an exchange late in the film mentioned that 11 years had passed since the start of the film I was somewhat shocked given no indication of this previously. You could kind of track it if you paid a lot of attention. Multiple viewings could be required to fully understand the film. Unfortunately it just isn’t engaging enough to warrant that.

Knowing me I probably will watch it again some day and become an active supporter of the movie. For the moment, however, I can’t really recommend it. I’m glad I saw it. The effort I made to watch it and the $3.99 USD I paid to see it were more than worth the price. But for the average viewer who wants value for their dollar they should steer clear.

If you’re a Franco/Rogen completist there’s something here for you. If not there’s plenty of other films out there for you to spend time with. Hell, give Under The Silver Lake a go. That’s a film deserving of more attention.

Interesting but very messy:

★★

Written by Benjamin Boekelaar