' ' Cinema Romantico: Pitch Meeting: Rhode Island Rhapsody

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Pitch Meeting: Rhode Island Rhapsody

Recently I was listening to an episode of This Had Oscar Buzz – a podcast all about movies that “once upon a time had lofty Academy Award aspirations but for some reason or another it all went wrong” – and co-hosts Joe Reid and Chris Feil briefly mentioned the Hollywood Film Awards. If I had heard of the Hollywood Film Awards before, I had forgotten them, but Feil explained that these ostensible awards were essentially bought by publicists, generally handed out before the winning movies themselves were even seen, recollecting that in one case Amy Adams won an award for “Arrival” before the movie even had a trailer. STOP THE TAPE. Before there was a trailer? Ok, ok, Feil hedged a bit, saying he wasn’t sure if it was true or not, though he also they would cut that part if it wasn’t, so it must have been? Doesn’t matter and I’m not doing the research to find out. What matters is that this newfound information, as it absolutely had to, got me to thinking.

It got me to thinking about, hmmmm, let’s say Joe Valley (Michael Shannon), a claims adjuster turned movie producer who can only view art in terms of risk management which is precisely why he’s never won an award. Deciding to take a risk and pull the kind of fast one he would have sniffed out from a mile away back in the day, Valley buys a Hollywood Film Award for a movie starring the last woman in town who will work with him, Kayla Prentice (Abbi Jacobson), a diva without the definitional success, constantly talking to her imaginary entourage, before the movie has even been made (!). When his non-existent film wins the Hollywood Film Award for Best Picture and Best Actress for Kayla, then, Valley has only 60 days to turn around and make an entire movie based solely on a title, enlisting the hapless but desperate Gordon Monson (Kevin Corrigan) who, thinking the title “Rhode Island Rhapsody” sounds funny, accidentally starts shooting a comedy until, sitting down to watch a cut of the movie, Valley realizes this and orders him to change it to a drama since comedies never win awards forcing Gordon to reshoot the entire movie in 17 days before its premiere.

Meanwhile, as the Hollywood gossip rags close in on getting the truth out of the party animal Hollywood Film Award President, Yale Manley (Jonah Hill), Glenn Close (herself), peeved that she may lose yet another Oscar race even after starring in “Eleanor of Aquitaine”, dispatches her personal assistant (Tiffany Haddish) to find out what’s really going on with “Rhode Island Rhapsody” and put a stop to it. The movie ends with Joe Valley and Glenn Close fighting in front of the Hollywood film sign if for no other reason than it makes for a striking image.

“Rhode Island Rhapsody?” Yale Manley asks watching the fight from below with a margarita in his hand. “I heard that was a real piece of crap.”

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