Hopeless Pictures (review)

No film is “too small or too depressing” for Hopeles(s) Pictures, the stuggling film studio headed up by Mel Wax (the voice of Michael McKean: For Your Consideration) — that he would bestow this moniker upon his company by conflating the names of his parent’s, Hope and Les, is emblematic of the dual driving force of Mel’s pysche: utter cluelessness propped up by a willingness to totally ignore social convention. This clever series, which airs on the IFC Channel, combines twitchy, edgy animation with witty voice performances to hold up Mel as the quintessence of Hollywood self-involvement, and while the simple plotlines would seem to touch on all the clichés of movieland satire, the slyly observant scripts and pitch-perfect performances inject a jittery freshness that makes this series infectiously addictive. Whether it’s Mel’s constant cheating on his wife (Lisa Kudrow: Happy Endings) and her self-hating tolerance of it or the impossibility of getting any actual work out of the gaggle of sycophants that surround Mel — from his ineffectual producer-nephew (Bob Balaban [Lady in the Water], who also created, produced, and directed these nine episodes) to studio execs and spoiled actresses (the always hilarious Jennifer Coolidge [Click] in multiple roles) and more — this is a crafty take on the interpersonal politics of the rich and not-as-famous-as-they’d-like-to-be. Don’t be fooled by the lack of a rating: the raw language and frankly sexual themes — and imagery! — make this one a treat for grownups only. Extras include a storyboard gallery, deleted scenes, and commentary from Balaban on select episodes. [buy at Amazon]

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