“Dead Tired” – A.J. Hakari

There was a sad, sad time in my life as a budding cinema hound when I looked to “Entertainment Tonight” as an honest-to-goodness source of hard movie news. Then my eyes were opened to a wonderful invention called the Internet, and I quickly came to see the show as the shameless gossip juggernaut it’s become today, not to mention what most of entertainment journalism has transformed into lately. Back in the early ’90s, French superstar Michel Blanc sensed society’s growing obsession with celebrity as well, and he seized the opportunity to crank out Dead Tired (a.k.a. Grosse Fatigue), a comedy of errors/not-so-gentle jab at show business. While not entirely on-target with its satirical javelins, Dead Tired still possesses enough intelligence and self-awareness about itself to at least keep viewers interested in where it’s going to go.

In a case of art imitating life (and perhaps imitating art, as well), Dead Tired features Blanc as himself, a famous movie star and accomplished writer. But lately, strange things have been happening in his life that he just can’t seem to explain away. What start off as supposed sightings at the Cannes Film Festival and nights spent emceeing at strip clubs quickly evolve into flat-out felonies, from rape to petty theft. Blanc starts to wonder if he’s going insane, that his crazy work schedule has led him to unknowingly do everything he can to sabotage his career. But it’s not long before Blanc finds out the truth, which he learns is much stranger than fiction: a perfect double (also played by Blanc) has been sullying his good name — and as it turns out, this new fellow has no intentions of giving up his newfound celebrity.

Not too long ago, I had the displeasure of popping Anthony Hopkins’ cinematic mind-scrambler Slipstream into my DVD player. Supposedly presented as a “joke” on behalf of Hopkins, whatever barbs or comments it had concerning the movie business were lost in a sea of erratic editing techniques that really did make it hard to physically watch. Dead Tired has its own list of flaws to deal with, but in the end, it does a decent job of not only holding itself together but in holding your attention as well. Although there are plenty of potshots taken at actors here, Blanc takes both them and fans to task, presenting both sides of the celebrity coin as having just as much potential for doing good as they do for being big fat jerks. Blanc is especially not afraid to attack himself, especially in a pretty funny scene in which his double bemoans having to be born with such schlubby looks. It’s fun seeing Blanc’s world slowly unravel thanks to his doppelganger’s efforts, which includes pilfering Charlotte Gainsbourg’s wallet and stealing Gerard Depardieu’s hotel room.

But for all its sporadic snarkiness and self fun-poking, Blanc never gets around to bringing a sense of consistency to it all. Dead Tired feels much too choppy than it should be; when it’s on-target, the flick is golden, but in between wry jokes, the downtime is often extremely sluggish and devoid of any energy. The flick already runs at a thin 85 minutes, and it still feels like Blanc is stretching the plot a little too far beyond its threshold of effectiveness. The third act especially unravels, thanks to a particular twist that turns Blanc from a sympathetic sadsack into a guy who should come equipped with one of those rain clouds that follow Charlie Brown around. Blanc just finds himself with nowhere to go, resulting in ending the film on as anticlimactic a note as can be, not to mention an 11th-hour attack on the current state of the film industry that comes out of nowhere. For someone who had carefully chosen his targets before striking, this has the same effect as Blanc emptying a tommy gun into a crowded room.

Like I said before, for all its imperfections, Dead Tired summons enough gusto and self-deprecation to get viewers at least somewhat involved in the action. As a satire, it’s nowhere near to being up to snuff with something brilliant like Robert Altman’s The Player, but the flick does a fairly decent job of injecting humor into a business where far too many people take themselves seriously.

Rating: ★★½☆

-A.J. Hakari

Read more of A.J.’s reviews at ReelTalk Movie Reviews, Classic Movie Guide, and Terror Tube.

One Response to ““Dead Tired” – A.J. Hakari”

  1. PaPa Larry H Says:

    I’m not sure if I would be interested in this film. Sounds boring to me. I did however, see ‘Slipstream’ and enjoyed it more than you apparently did.

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