Danny Roane: First Time Director is a dark comedy about the reality of alcoholism and the trials and tribulations of Hollywood. As with most dark comedies the laughter tends to be subdued and center around moments of absurdity. It is, much like it’s main character, sad, awkward and tediously ignorant of the damage that it causes. It’s very easy to see that Andy Dick has a knack for making people laugh about things that would make most anyone cry. There is a great deal of value in being able to do that. The dilemma with Danny Roane seems to be that it just doesn’t know the difference between harsh irreverence and outright cruelty.
The movie is, for all intents and purposes, a quality film filled with notable actors, credible writing and apparent moments of talented improvisation. As ridiculous as it may sound, this movie is a blatantly obvious homage to the ego of Andy Dick. Unfortunately, the paper thin and pitiful characters in this movie never turn out to be the closet heroes you find yourself hoping they’ll be through the entire story. Understandably so, Andy Dick’s main character never turns out to be someone worth saving.
The entire movie is presented in the form of a “mockumentary” about a young television star who had a brief fifteen minutes and burned out on national television by having an alcohol fueled meltdown. After successfully completing rehab Danny is able to maintain his sobriety while dabbling in artistic endeavours in small theatres. Danny decides it’s time to make a comeback and pitches his somewhat autobiographical story to a small film company. Based, somewhat, on a mistunderstanding about the title of the film, which is actually “dêd drēm” (pronounced “dead dream”), the producer greenlights Danny’s film and authorizes them to begin production. Immediately, Danny’s eccentric behavior begins to cause trouble when during the very first pre-production meeting Danny’s obsession with how to wear his hair drives one of the crew to quit. This forces the rest of the crew, including Danny’s closest friends, to re-evaluate their commitment to Danny’s warped “vision.” Even the first audition turns into a floundering series of inappropriate requests for young men to remove their shirts and an explosive altercation between Danny and an overzealous method actor who nearly beats Danny to a pulp. Of course Danny’s response is to award the thug with a leading role.
In his quest to cast the film with high caliber actors Danny attempts to call in a favor with Hollywood veteran Ben Stiller. What follows is quite possibly as close as one can get to a self inflicted root canal as Andy Dick and Ben Stiller attempt to one-up one another for five full minutes. From this point on the movie spirals, ever increasingly, deeper and farther than good taste dictates. Shortly after a scene where Danny convinces his lead actor, James van der Beek, that a side effect of sudden cessation of alcoholic abuse is bloody anal leakage and that he’ll be carrying a “bloody butt rag” through most of the film Danny then offends his production designer by using the word “retarded” instead of retardant when referring to flame resistant set pieces.
On the third day of filming Danny, while demonstrating to his actors how a real alcoholic drinks straight from the bottle, discovers that the majority of the bottles on the set contain real alcohol. Because of his distorted world view, and the misguided encouragement of his enabling crew of friends and family, Danny justifies the end of his sobriety. Danny, during one of the intimate interview scenes with the documentary crew, spews a long speech about how he realizes that he’s not actually an alcoholic, just a heavy drinker who has to rely on alcohol as part of his “creative process.” Thus begins the devastation brought on by extreme narcissism, delusion and a somewhat sociopathic disregard for human dignity.
Even in the midst of Shakesperean tragedy unlikely heroes emerge. One would hope that in the midst of this bleak satirical look into the mind of a severely ill man that someone would offer what many recovery programs would refer to as the “hand of hope.” Instead, one may feel that the opening scene of the movie should be a close-up of the inscription over the entrance to hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, “All hope abandon ye who enter here.” Danny Roane appears to be someone who, after visiting a vacation home on the shores of the river Styx, decides to take up permanent residence.
Andy Dick may feel that watching someone stumble from a curb on a busy street is good comedy. Tragically Andy Dick’s character, Danny Roane: First Time Director, continues to point and laugh as a bus brutally brings the laughter to a sobering end.
Andy Dick (director) / Andy Dick (screenplay)
CAST: Eddie Alfano … Vinnie Carbonarra
Jamie Anne Allman … Candice Sauvigne
Bob Bancroft … Allen Roane
Jack Black … Jack Black
Mo Collins … Deidra Fennigan
Marshall Cook … Nathan West
Andy Dick … Danny Roane