Porn Star (visibly upset): “I’m about to be gangbanged by five guys.”
Adam Zeller: “Well, didn’t they tell you that before you got here?”
Porn Star: “They said it would only be a few”
Adam Zeller: “Um, I’m sure you’ll be fine”
That scene is just one of the humorously satirical exchanges in Casper Andreas’ latest indie film, Going Down in LA-LA Land, which premiered April 20 in New York City. The movie, based on the 2006 roman à clef by Andy Zeffer, features a 20 something LA newbie in search of stardom transparently called “Adam Zeller” by the writer and played craftily by the smoldering Matthew Ludwinski.
Like all new-kid-in-a-big-city stories, we are introduced to Adam’s sensibilities through the usual run-ins and meet-cutes that ensue upon his arrival. There’s an eagerness and innocence to Adam as he navigates the strange and exotic L.A. landscape of thankless clerical work, celebrity obsession and parking tickets on his journey to fame. Tour guide of Adam’s adventures is his spunky new roommate, comedic foil, and long time BFF Candy, played deliciously by Allison Lane. Candy is unapologetic in her quest for Hollywood success and unashamed of the questionably kinky, yet often hilarious, choices she makes to get there. It is her brazen self-assuredness that works well when pitted against Adam’s mounting insecurities over the seedy and realistically depressing choices he is forced to make for money.
The casting of Ludwinski is pitch perfect and the young actor plays Adam with a subtlety and ease that is refreshing and unexpected. We are often treated to lingering shots of Adam’s wide-eyed facial reactions to his environments which are handled brilliantly by Ludwinski and his subdued performance throughout the film adds a needed gravity to the more powerful scenes he commands. When he explodes, we pay attention. Lane has concocted a vampy, scene stealing fag hag who is not only loveable but also relatable, albeit over the top.
Andreas—who is known for casting himself in his films with mixed results—actually works really well in this context and becomes increasingly believable on his character’s descent into drugs, disease, and desperation. Yet even when hitting his lowest low he manages to drive away in a cute Jeep with a full tank of gas. How very L.A. Cameos by Alec Mapa as himself, Jesse Archer as a queeny L.A. casting agent, Bruce Vilanch as a Chi-Chi LaRue-esque director, Judy Tenuta as a ’80s star turned red carpet beard, and Perez Hilton (as a nurse) round out the cast and add to Casper’s signature cute-and-campy style.
Andreas as a director has cemented his stylistic form with this film and has improved leaps and bounds since his 2004 debut Slutty Summer. The muted tones he uses evoke a somber LA and exacerbate the characters’ directionless ambling about while seeking love and fame in Hollywood. The porn scenes are executed tastefully (sorry guys we only see a few glimpses of dicks) and make the bigger picture sexy rather than slutty.