Review of Going Down in LA-LA Land


Movie Review: "Going Down in La-La Land"

Rating: NR (not rated)
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Directed by: Casper Andreas
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When the audience first meets young Adam (Matthew Ludwinski), he seems to have it all. He is highly attractive, tan, toned and freshly graduated from acting school. He lives in New York, but instead of pursuing Broadway or a local television show, he decides to hedge his bets in Los Angeles.

He moves across the country to the titular La-La Land, where his best friend Candy (Allison Lane) conveniently lives. Instead of having to struggle and settle for any old job, he can live for free with Candy while he finds his bearings in his new town. The idealistic young man thinks he is going to find a boyfriend, get a great audition and land himself a big acting gig. Like so many before him, he has come to Hollywood with stars in his eyes.

Soon enough, reality sets in for Adam. Candy has no job and spends the money her sugar daddy gives her on shopping and hanging out with friends. She can't and won't let him live for free forever, so he looks for a job. He gets a menial one answering phones and is completely miserable. There are no auditions, and the hope for one is fading quickly.

He does find a boyfriend, Nick (Casper Andreas, who also wrote the script and directed the movie), who is not quite the dream guy he was hoping for. Instead, Nick starts Adam down a dark path. He convinces Adam to join him in the film industry as an assistant. Mistakenly thinking this might lead to an audition, Adam shows up on set only to realize that the address is a house where porn is filmed. He stays on with them because he needs the job, though he is equally curious and repulsed by what goes on behind the scenes of the porn that he has watched many times in his life.

After a little while on the job, Nick convinces Adam that sex is no big deal. After being exposed to it all day, Adam somewhat agrees, but he is hesitant about Nick's proposal to get into prostitution. The thought of loaning out his body for money steps over a line that Adam is not quite ready to cross. With a little bit of partying and coaxing, Adam relents and takes on a few clients.

"Going Down in La-La Land" shows that it does not take long for good intentions to go down the drain. There are only a few weeks between idealistic Adam showing up at Candy's doorstep and taking on his first john. Of course, Adam thinks he won't be hooking for long and that it isn't a big deal, but the look in his eyes shows that he may not be so sure.

As Adam's life spirals out of control, director Andreas is careful to show the seediness of Los Angeles that helps contribute to the sharp turn it takes. From the classism and materialistic greed to the overall obsession with fame, there are many contributing factors to Adam's downfall. There are some particularly biting scenes and commentary about appearances that really sting. For example, one character is mocked mercilessly because it appears that he purchased his wardrobe at Kohl's. The audience may be wondering what is wrong with wearing clothes from Kohl's. By the end of the film, Adam is asking himself the same question. The answer is that there is nothing wrong with Kohl's unless you are a part of the label-obsessed, insular world portrayed in the film.

Lead actor Matthew Ludwinski turns in a solid performance as Adam, who becomes lost all too quickly. He manages to somehow make Adam someone to root for even as he goes deeper down the rabbit hole. The character never seems to completely lose either his charm or his hope, which is a testament to Ludwinski's performance.

The script was adapted by Andreas from the novel by Andy Zeffer, which was part satire and part comedy. Though there is a lot of drama in "Going Down in La-La Land," Andreas doesn't forget the roots of the film. He manages to throw some biting comedy and satire into the mix so that the material never gets too heavy. The audience is always hopeful that Adam will turn his life around. The fun part is seeing how he gets to that point, if indeed he ever does.