Queen of the Lot Movie Review
Review by Sally Brooks (A-)
Henry Jaglom's latest movie, Queen of the Lot, is set in modern-day Hollywood and stars Tanna Frederick, Noah Wyle and Christopher Rydell. In this sequel to Hollywood Dreams, Margie Chizek has achieved B movie success with her action hero films under her new name, Maggie Chase. But she's also gotten into trouble having had a few DUIs and now she's under house arrest - ankle bracelet and all. She's driven in her quest for A-list fame as evidenced by her obsession with her Google points. She's got more points than her home state of Iowa but far less than Angelina Jolie and that's got to change. She has to be Queen of the Lot - just like Norma Shearer.
Zack Norman and David Proval reprise their Hollywood Dreams roles as Kaz and Caesar, the hotshot gay Hollywood producers who discovered Maggie. They are still "married" (to each other) and funnier than ever. Maggie asks them if she can stay at their mansion for a while because she can't stand being stuck in her apartment on house arrest with the press dogging her. They agree and she gets police permission to stay with them.
Maggie asks Kaz and Caesar if her boyfriend (an already established star) Dov Lambert (Christopher Rydell) can stay, too. Dov is a half-wit who hails from Hollywood royalty. Enter Aaron Lambert (Noah Wyle), Dov's brother, a failed writer and black sheep of the family, who is sent to fetch Dov to help with a family crisis.
Is there really such a thing as a functional family? I don't think I've ever met one. Dov takes Maggie home to meet the family, headed by charismatic patriarch Louis Lambert (played with great depth by Jack Heller). At dinner, Dov introduces Maggie to everyone, including his sort-of estranged wife (Daisy White). What happens at large dysfunctional family dinners (as in Jaglom's Last Summer in the Hamptons)? Fur flies between various factions and, of course, Margie is right in there trying to fit in and help out and maybe make a connection that will propel her to mega-stardom. Aaron is in the fray maintaining his role as the family scapegoat and helping Maggie feel comfortable amidst the family bickering while Dov plays with his wife and other more important things - like his poker buddies. Maggie and Aaron reluctantly fall for each other and the way their relationship develops is one of the most irresistible aspects of the film.
Frederick and Wyle together make the silver screen simmer with vintage Tinseltown charm reminiscent of Tracy and Hepburn. Frederick plays Maggie Chase as down-to-earth, believable and loveable. Maggie is driven, insecure, and slightly conniving but she's also smart, forceful and can take care of business. This is Frederick's best performance as she infuses Maggie with her uncanny combination of star and girl-next-door. Wyle is at the top of his game as Aaron, an insecure good guy whose wife has just left him. He's a wreck but his inner strength comes through in emergencies.
As often occurs in Jaglom films, his brother Michael Emil appears, this time as a curmudgeonly interloper in a therapy group. Jaglom's daughter Sabrina is absolutely stunning. Remember her as Zoe Lambert, the young filmmaker in Hollywood Dreams who rejects Margie Chizek? Well, Zoe's turned into quite a formidable, sometimes calculating young woman. Simon Orson Jaglom, is just adorable as Michael Lambert. Love him!
There is an outstanding supporting cast including great performances by Kelly DeSarla, Ron Vignone and Diane Salinger as Maggie's "handlers." Salinger is frighteningly believable as Maggie's "life coach." Mary Crosby, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Christopher, Paul Sand and Beege Barkette shine as various family members and associates. Tommy Garrett is delightful as a reporter who empathizes with Maggie's quest for fame and the fact that she only gets attention from the press when she's been bad.
You've got to see this movie. There are some very funny lines and Queen of the Lot has heart and soul. When I saw Jaglom's Hollywood Dreams I thought, "This is the REAL Hollywood." Queen of the Lot has reinforced that. I'd like to poll some Hollywood types to see if they agree. In any event, I am confident that Tanna Frederick is going to achieve her dreams in Hollywood and if there were still a lot, she would be queen of it!
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.