Poking Fun at the Hollywood Machine
Release Date: August 23, 2002
Starring: Al Pacino, Rachel Roberts,
Catherine Keener, Jay Mohr,
and Winona Ryder
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema (Warner Bros.)
Director: Andrew Niccol
Executive Producer: Bradley Cramp, Danny DeVito,
Michael Shamberg, and Stacey
Producer: Andrew Niccol and Daniel Lupi
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Address Comments To:
Robert Shaye & Michael Lynne
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
Fax: (310) 659-3568
(PaPa, B, ACap, PC, L, S, A, D, M) Worldly pagan outlook with failure-ridden protagonist willing to create massive deception for self-promotion purposes, though he does feel guilty as well as some metaphorical references to playing God and minor anti-capitalist, politically correct theme with star poking fun at various conservative, mostly Republican values; mild language with four obscenities, one strong; one allusion to sex with protagonist making hotel room look like sexy star had been there and one scene of passionate kissing and falling down, but in a comical manner; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying and grand deception.
Al Pacino stars in SIMONE as a small-time movie producer, Viktor Taransky, who creates “Simone,” a gorgeous, computer simulated star, to replace the snotty, high priced actress who walked off his set. SIMONE provides many good laughs, mostly at Hollywood’s expense, but the whole movie is based on deception and there are some brief anti-capitalist, politically correct elements.
SIMONE begins with a hoity-toity star citing “creative differences” and walking out on producer Viktor Taransky’s independent movie. She is actually miffed because her 50 foot Airstream® Trailer is slightly shorter than her co-star’s. Viktor angrily storms off, only to run into the rapidly deteriorating Hank Delano, a special effects computer guy mostly forgotten in Hollywood circles for his lectures on “Who Needs Humans?”
Hank gives Viktor the technology to make an incredibly simulated movie star, and, though it is against the law and the Screen Actors Guild rules, Viktor creates “Simone,” named by piecing together “Simulation One.” Simone is gorgeous and perfect and looks very, very real. Viktor is excited and comments to Simone’s image on the screen, “Our ability to manufacture fraud now exceeds our ability to detect it. The scales have been tipped in favor of the fake.”
Viktor carefully replaces the disgruntled star with Simone in his movie, and it is an incredible success. The world loves her! He assures Simone that he is going to tell the truth about her after her next picture. The media has a heyday with the fact that Simone never makes live appearances, and reporters begin hounding Viktor for an interview.
Viktor begins his second Simone film and goes to great, very hilarious lengths to make it seem that Simone is traveling from place to place. He carefully produces still photos and video clips of her image to send to the various magazines and talk shows. He keeps his private studio locked and guarded, but when the movie’s producer, his ex-wife and four others find a way inside, they discover only computers and screens. Viktor quickly explains that Simone is a computer geek, very shy, and that she has a morbid fear of people and heights.
When Viktor fakes an interview with Simone in the desert, two paparazzi guys recognize the location and drive out to it, only to see that a hotel has been built at that site. They now know that Viktor has been faking all the interviews and that Simone is locked away somewhere. They threaten to tell the world this secret unless Viktor produces her live and in person. In response, Viktor decides to create the grandest fake of all.
SIMONE provides many good laughs, and its gentle poking at the Hollywood system is quite entertaining. The acting is superb, and the writing is tight. At one point in the movie, when Viktor is trying to destroy his creation, he makes a movie called “I am Pig,” where he has Simone crawling around pig troughs. To his shock and horror, the world loves it! He screams out, “I can’t put the Genie back in the bottle!”
There are a couple of creepy elements in this movie. One of them is when Viktor yells; “I have taken nothing and made it into something!” That reminded me of the Hebrew word in Genesis, “bara,” which means, “something created out of nothing.” This display of hubris reveals Viktor’s narcissistic attempt to play God. Another interesting and creepy element was when Viktor made it seem that Simone had died, and he had a funeral service for her. Standing around the casket were clergymen of various religions, seeming to represent the false gods or idolatry of the whole, fake Hollywood system.
At another point in the movie, Viktor wants Simone to fail, so he has her give a remote talk show interview where she spouts off about smoking, not caring about the ozone, eating endangered wildlife, and other issues deemed atrocious by liberals.
In general, though, the tone of the movie is light and humorous, and the whole theme of Hollywood’s image-orientation is fun to ridicule. Older moviegoers may enjoy the discussion this movie provokes about the world of creating illusions and using deception to get ahead. SIMONE provides many good laughs, mostly at Hollywood’s expense, but the whole movie is based on deception and there are some brief anti-capitalist, politically correct elements.
Al Pacino stars in SIMONE as a small-time movie producer, Viktor Taransky, who creates “Simone,” a gorgeous, computer simulated star, to replace the snotty, high priced actress who walked off his set. The world loves Simone, and no one realizes she’s fake. Viktor goes to hilarious lengths to make it seem that Simone is traveling from place to place. He carefully produces still photos and video clips of her to send to the various magazines and talk shows, and explains that Simone is a computer geek, with a morbid fear of people and heights. Finally, two paparazzi figure out that Viktor has been faking interviews and that Simone is locked away somewhere. They threaten to tell the world this secret unless Viktor produces her live and in person. Viktor responds by deciding to create the grandest fake-out of all.
SIMONE provides many good laughs, and its gentle poking at the Hollywood system is quite entertaining. The acting is superb, especially All Pacino, and the writing is tight, though the whole movie is based on deception. SIMONE also contains several obscenities, light sexual references and some brief anti-capitalist, politically-correct elements poking fun at conservative, mostly Republican values.