A clueless Bradford undertaker airlifts himself into the heart of the California nightmare hoping to get the girl.
While filmmakers may never tire of the rich pickings of the LA caricature, at least, as viewed through the eyes of Finnish director Kaurismaki, adapting Richard Rayner's autobiographical novel, the results are refreshingly skewed.
Richard (Tennant) is a miserable Scottish-born undertaker and aspiring writer living in Bradford who meets beautiful blonde Californian tourist and wannabe actress Barbara (Shaw). After one idyllic day together, Barbara is forced to leave, though within days - and without her knowledge - Richard has jumped on a plane bound for LA. Cue comedy magnification of La La Land inhabitants as seen by the stiff-arsed Richard as he encounters evangelistic pool cleaning bosses, idiot poodle-haired guitar shop customers, headset-wearing screenwriting agents and one memorable Afro-sporting film producer.
Perhaps predictably, the path of true love turns out to be full of potholes for Richard. It transpires that BarbaraÆs all-consuming hunger for success involves her ongoing flirtation with odious young director Patterson (Cameron Bancroft), hence the plot unfolds around Richard and Barbara's on-off love affair, which is where the film begins to come unstuck. Shaw portrays Barbara as fickle and ultimately unlikeable, while Tennant's puppy-dog Richard takes one kicking too many from the object of his affection.
Thankfully, the film isn't built entirely around this wafer-thin affair and there are plenty of entertaining distractions. Gallo is superb as cartoon slacker Moss (whose every utterance involves the words 'yo' and 'bro'), Delpy is brilliantly shallow as his girlfriend Julie and Johnny Depp cameos as Richard's Dead Man poster periodically coming to life with mute offers of advice. Elsewhere, amid the razor-sharp satire and weak love story, Beverly Hills 90210 refugee Bancroft shines as the hopeless, blond-highlighted director whose movie pitches include 'It's like Aliens . . . with cats'.
Diverting transatlantic romcom with plenty of entertaining distractions.