The plot in a nutshell
A frazzled, less than successful director (played by Al Pacino), fed up with cry baby actors and
their ridiculous demands, finds the perfect solution in some special software
that a fan has developed. This software allows the user to create the perfect
cyber-human, flawless and ideal. Using the attributes of everyone from Grace
Kelly to Madonna, he perfects the ideal actress - Simone. She turns out too
perfect, and before he can say 'chat room', she's taken on a life of her own,
created and fueled by the insane media and movie fans. He's force to deal with the situation, with the expected results.
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Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
Here's a film that could have looked at what it really means to be an actor, and
the effect CGI creations will have on the industry. It could have been prophetic,
having been done before we saw Gollum, and before the talk of how to properly
recognize the performance of somewhat less than real characters. Let's face it,
that's an issue that will get more and more important, and as computer animation
continues to improve, we'll eventually have the capability to produce characters
like Simone cheaper than acting talent. What then?
The film only touches on the subject lightly though, and it's a perfect example
of a film with a decent premise that turns into nothing but a fluff piece. We've
seen this story line before, practically word for word - remember the Seinfeld
episode where Elaine creates the Suze character? That's this film, only
90 minutes shorter and a whole lot funnier.
Winona Ryder has a small role that she does a great job with, proving that she's
still a talented actress, kleptomania not withstanding. Al Pacino phones it in,
and appears to be playing the part as if character is drunk most of the time.
There's no spark, and he shuffles from scene to scene, looking as though he's
about to doze off or start slurring his words any minute.
Rating - Skip It.
This isn't a terrible film, but you should be able to find plenty of far
better films to spend two hours with. Life is short - don't waste it on the uninspired.
By the way, there's more than just a plot similarity to Sienfeld - the actor that
plays the Chief Detective, Daniel von Bargen, was also on the show for several
episodes, playing Kruger, one of George's less than brilliant employers.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
So let's talk about the plot in slightly greater detail...
I mentioned the Sienfeld episode. I'm not joking. Elaine creates Suze to avoid problems at work. Suddenly the character begins to take on a life of
her own, getting work assigned to her, and with her boss even claiming he slept
with her at one point. Desperate to rid herself of this new burden, Elaine makes
up an imaginary suicide for the imaginary Suze. And of course, someone claims
Jerry actually murdered her.
Let's see - Pacino creates Simone to take care of a problem with his work. She's
so popular, she takes on a life of her own, with people making up stories just to
be associated with her. Knowing he'll get caught eventually, and starting to feel
constrained by having to have her in his films, he gives his imaginary star and imaginary
but deadly disease. And naturally, everyone thinks he killed her. It made a much better
I also always love it when a director assumes their audience is so stupid as
to miss even the most obvious of clues. This film has a perfect example in the
explanation of Simone's name. The film never uses the cutesy 1 and 0 you see on the
movie posters, so that must have been some marketing guru's idea. The software used by Pacino to
create the actress starts off with the title 'simulation one'. My wife, ever
the quick witted, immediately said "oh, that's where he gets Simone!".
They could have simply left out any further reference and let you figure it out
for yourself. Or they could have used a late scene in the movie, in which Pacino
tears a photo of her in half to explain to the police that her name is based on
'simulation one'. At least with that late explanation, you could have figured
it out for yourself and simply said "Yes, see, I'm smart enough to figure that
out." But no - just in case you have the I.Q. of a large turnip, there's a scene relatively early in the film in which Pacino deletes the letters
between 'sim' and 'one' on the computer, word processor style. Nothing like
using a large club to repeatedly beat an obvious point into your audience's head.
Perhaps the worst part of this film is the ending. Ignoring the complete bastardization of technology which Hollywood seems incapable of avoiding, there's
still serious issues with the ethical resolution. It seems that not only is it okay
that he's defrauded millions of people with his fake actress, but that the best
solution is to defraud them even further. The ending is about as deep as a mud puddle,
and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
If you do watch this film, keep your eye peeled (pun intended) for an interesting little tidbit
early on. When the one eyed software developer is talking to Pacino on the lot,
notice the billboard of a large eye that travels slowly behind him, just over his
shoulder in the background. Cute.