Tribeca Breakdown: "G.B.F."



Howard Holloway (Clark Gregg) is former child star grown up into a Hollywood agent when the acting dream fizzled out. Now the agent dream is also fizzling. He has no clients, lives in a place with bars on the windows, dresses terribly, and drives a crappy car. All that changes when he meets Lydia (Saxon Sharbino) a talented young 14 year old up for a part in a “Twilight”-style vamp movie. She takes Howard on as her representation, but with her comes the baggage of her guardian, a drunken father named Ray (Paul Sparks).


 Caution to aspiring child actors: Hollywood will spit you out once they can’t use you anymore. I’m sure Gary Coleman, Macaulay Culkin, and Corey Haim’s minds have just been blown. Ok, I’m being too cynical. Clark Gregg, known to most for his role as Phil Caulson in most of the past Marvel comic book movies, has made a film in “Trust Me” that does have quite a few laughs but continues making the same well known point over and over again, until the last act which goes completely off the rails.

Gregg condemns many here; casting directors and producers for being uncaring and using kids only as pawns for gaining the biggest business, parents for looking for a quick payday over the well-being of the child, agents who wouldn’t be nearly as interested if these kids couldn’t get them some cash. One of the best scenes in the film has Harold explain his dealings with a past client, who wound up killing herself.

It’s not that “Trust Me” doesn’t say some important things, because it does, but making Hollywood out to be a lions den for young people is neither a surprising or hard concept to come up with, nor do we need the overkill of throwing in the sexual abuse that comes later to understand the point.  But perhaps what really kills it is an over-the-top ending that tries to completely transform two characters, turning one literally into a guardian angel even. The movie jumps genres completely, and with that so goes any credibility.

The cast is terrific here though. Gregg not only handles writing and directing duties but giving a solid performance as a veteran Hollywood scrambler, a man with a dishevelled look and a constant need to be working toward getting back to the top, no matter how bad some of the things he’s doing are. The fact he can’t even get into a high school play is a funny touch. He has a playful chemistry with Amanda Peet, the pretty, single young love interest who lives next door, while Sharbino works well as this talented but vulnerable young kid. Sam Rockwell, who starred in Gregg’s directorial debut “Choke”, is also on hand for a wonderfully sleazy performance as a rival agent. And Allison Janney and Felicity Huffman are perfect as uncaring Hollywood types.

But as Hollywood satire, “Trust Me” feels middle-of-the-road, having a few decent laughs but hardly anything new to say.