Director: Phil Volken
Cast: Jed Rees, Jon Huck, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Steven Bauer
Watch Hollywood Trash online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Written and directed by Phil Volken, Hollywood Trash (also known as Garbage if you’re looking it up on the IMDb) is a 2013 low-budget US indie comedy that’s receiving a belated VOD release in the UK. A two-year delay isn’t normally a good sign, but Hollywood Trash is enjoyable, albeit modest in both scale and ambition.
Set in present day Los Angeles, the film stars Jed Rees and Jon Huck as Lenny Eaton and Abbott Smith, two working class garbage men who work in the Hollywood hills, servicing local celebrities such as Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen (who play themselves) and Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg (who don’t).
When Hollywood-obsessed Lenny finds Cuba Gooding Jnr’s Best Supporting Oscar for Jerry Maguire in the trash, he and Abbott suddenly find themselves signed up by ambitious agent Casey Siegel (Ubach), who pitches their story to all the networks and turns them into overnight celebrities. However, the pair’s new-found fame soon begins to put a strain on their relationship.
Volken’s script serves up some enjoyable Hollywood satire, but it lacks bite overall and doesn’t do anything that Netflix’s wonderful animated comedy Bojack Horseman isn’t doing a thousand times better. That said, there are some nice running gags (e.g. Lenny’s unsuccessful attempts to get people to refer to them as something other than garbage men) and a handful of amusing moments that hit home, such as Lenny being introduced to William Baldwin at a party and blurting out, “You eat a lot of fish sticks…”
The film’s main strength lies in the performances of its two unknown actors and the touching depiction of their friendship. Rees (who bears a weird, Hollywood-appropriate resemblance to Edward G. Robinson) is particularly effective as Lenny, a small-time dreamer who suddenly gets a shot at the limelight, while the larger-built Huck (there’s a physical echo of Of Mice and Men’s George and Lenny that doesn’t really pay off) is very likeable as his quieter, easy-going partner, his face perpetually plastered with an endearingly goofy grin.
There’s a bittersweet quality to the film that’s surprisingly moving and the film doesn’t always play out the way you expect, especially in a scene involving Lenny and a work colleague. In addition, there are some nice touches scattered throughout, such as Lenny having a signed photo of Emilio Estevez, who starred in 1990’s Men At Work, the only known Hollywood movie about garbage men.
The film’s main problem is its lack of ambition, which leads to a handful of moments that feel like missed opportunities for character depth, most notably Lenny failing to perform sexually after he uses the Oscar to lure a woman back to his apartment after a night in a bar. It also doesn’t help that we never actually see the Oscar, presumably due to some tightly controlled copyright enforcement on the part of the Academy.
The result is an engaging and sweet-natured indie comedy that’s never less than watchable, although it never quite delivers any big laughs and settles for mild satire rather than putting the boot in.