For his first feature as writer-director, Steve Morris tells the story of a group of film-school friends struggling in low-level jobs in Hollywood, wishing they could realize projects of their own. After a piece of script coverage written as a joke for a nonexistent screenplay starts to snowball into a project that might actually go into production, they seize on the situation, hoping for what could be their big break, but the hoax strains their loyalties.
"The Assistants" puts on in-the-know airs with references to "this town" — as in, "in this town, power isn't just an illusion, illusion is power" — that only confirm the film's take on "Hollywood" to be riddled with clichés and surface-level insights; the details about the kind of movie the characters aspire to make are left vague and undefined, consisting of little more than an image of a backpacker silently emerging atop a hillside. What's more, Morris' film suffers from a woefully flat style.
Though filmmaking and its discontents have provided fodder for works as diverse as "Day for Night" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," in the case of "The Assistants," this movie about wanting to make a movie doesn't make for much of a movie.
"The Assistants." Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.