Chump Change

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Stephen Burrows, Tim Matheson
R, 89 mins., 2000 (Buena Vista)

Entertainment Weekly
February 13, 2004
By Allison Hope Weiner

Sometimes you can find polished gems in the direct-to-video bin - like this TinseItown satire, only the second to costar Traci Lords and Abe Vigoda, and perhaps the first to feature a director's commentary on a director's commentary.

Written and directed by (and starring) Burrows, the offbeat comedy - allegedly based on his life - follows the personal and professional travails of a Milwaukee actor as he struggles to find success in Hollywood.

Those efforts include an unsuccessful stint on Wheel of Fortune (he gets sued by Merv), writing and performing in a play featuring a euthanasia-themed song, and pitching an action/sex comedy to a deranged studio exec (Tim Matheson) who greenlights projects based on whether they make his penis twitch.

Burrows' deadpan readings of responses from a focus group that evaluated an early cut explain how something this good landed in the direct-to-video bin in the first place. A

-Allison Hope Weiner

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