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The Comeback Trail

Movies about the film business have been around almost since the medium started. ‘Sunset Boulevard’, and ‘The Player’ amongst others have skewered Tinsletown with glee. The titanic egos and outrageous fortune of the business have fascinated and repelled audiences. ‘The Comeback Trail’ continues this wicked exploration. Although a work of fiction, its grain of truth makes you wonder if Hollywood would really sink as low as ‘The Comeback Trail’s’ shonky characters.

It’s 1974 and wayward film producer Max Barber (Robert DeNiro) owes money to dangerous gangster Reggie (Morgan Freeman). Wanting to keep his partner and nephew Walter (Zack Braff) happy, he hatches a scheme where his latest film’s leading man dies, whereby he can collect the insurance money. He casts washed up movie star Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones). Placing him in ever more dangerous situations, Max’s plan doesn’t exactly work with Duke’s survival instincts causing more headaches for Max’s already shaky demeanour.

‘The Comeback Trail’ is an amiable comedy making fair use of its talents. A remake of a little seen 1982 film, it has sly digs at Hollywood machinations without being too ferocious. Perhaps that could have made it more memorable, although the cartoon-like stunt-work and consistently amusing humour enables fun viewing.

Director George Gallo doesn’t have to try too hard in obtaining good performances. DeNiro, Jones and Freeman are pros in ‘The Comeback Trails’ broad comedy style, teasing out the script’s occasional darkness with ease. They’ve suffered the slings and arrows of Hollywood’s craziness several times, effectively bringing their professional experiences to the fore despite the story’s increasingly silly incidents.

‘The Comeback Trail’ isn’t the greatest comedy made but it provides an entertaining diversion. Whilst it could have been much tougher in targeting cinematic greed, there are other films which have done this multiple times. If you want to see a group of famous actors have fun with thin material then this is for you although one hopes the story they work with never comes to reality.

Rating out 10: 6

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