Looking over Robert De Niro's last several films, it's easy to say "Man, what just happened?" However, knowing he's re-teaming with director Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog) on an adaptation of Art Linson's very funny memoir (What Just Happened?)is enough for this writer to, finally, throw a little excitement behind an upcoming De Niro film. Joining an already fantastic cast are Catherine Keener and Robin Wright Penn; the two females will star alongside folks like Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart and De Niro. Also, Bruce Willis and Sean Penn will make an appearance as themselves.
The film (and book) revolve around a fading Hollywood producer (De Niro) who's struggling to get a movie made, while doing his best to survive the absurd Hollywood politics that surround his every move. Keener and Wright Penn will play the two women in De Niro's life; the latter will take on the role of his ex-wife, while the former will play a studio head with whom our producer is courting. Shooting is scheduled to begin this week in -- where else -- La La Land. "Inside Hollywood" films are often a tough sell because the majority of people out there don't work in Hollywood, and don't get the jokes ... nor do they care. Instead of watching a screenwriter complain about how many drafts he's contracted to write, folks would rather the character throw a script across the room ... only to watch all 100 pages smack an unsuspected visitor upside the head. Needless to say, if Levinson and De Niro can capture a little (or a lot) of Wag the Dog in this film, then we're in store for the type of comedy that desperately needs to make its way back onto the big screen.