Odd Brodsky is a film for anyone who has ever wistfully dreamed of Hollywood greatness. At its screening at Dances With Films on Saturday night, writer/director Cindy Baer admitted that the movie comes at least somewhat from her own experiences—but that this wasn’t entirely intentional. They’re the experiences of a person trying to pursue a career in Hollywood against greater odds, and, for anyone who has done so, those experiences tend to be universal.
Audrey Brodsky (Tegan Ashton Cohan) is a girl with big dreams. At age 24, she leaves home to go to Hollywood and pursue an acting career. At age 35, she’s, instead, stuck in an office job, filing reports and gradually having her soul sucked away. She’s successful, appreciated, and makes good money, but she also has no time to go on auditions or do any of the things she’s always dreamed of doing. It’s not where she wants to be, and it’s eating away at her every day.
Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Well, Audrey refuses to let hers dry up like a raisin in the sun. Instead, it explodes. She quits her job to pursue acting full time and, to facilitate the process, hires a camera crew to document her journey and turn it into a reality TV show.
Audrey is determined to do whatever it takes to break into acting but is completely clueless about what it actually DOES take—or how long. She rents a billboard and puts her name on it to generate “brand recognition” when she goes on auditions. She (very briefly) begins calling herself “Audrey Broadway,” in the hope that the new name will wield more star power, and she leaves two long and embarrassing messages on Julia Roberts’ answering machine, in the hope that—well, it’s doubtful that she knows exactly what she’s hoping. Just that personal contact with a Hollywood star may bring her that much closer to stardom herself.
She’s aided in these endeavors by her camera crew—one guy (Matthew Kevin Anderson), whom everyone just refers to as “Camera One,” even in general conversation—and her roommate Steve (Scott Dickert)—a perpetually stoned slacker who insists that people call him Spuds. The situations that Audrey and her friends get into over the course of the film get increasingly ridiculous but always remain relatable. And, it’s that relatability that makes the film funny. Whether she’s trying to bluff her way into a role by talking about her non-existent violin skills or standing at the entrance to a studio and handing out headshots to the cars that come through, we understand her struggle and her passion. So, while many of the characters on the screen are laughing at Audrey, we’re laughing with her and perhaps laughing at ourselves in the process.
The film was obviously a labor of love for Baer and her husband/co-writer Matthew Irving. They love what they do, and they love the people they work with. Everyone on the film is clearly having a great time, which comes across onscreen and makes it more fun for us, as well. The film is funny, silly, quirky, and entertaining. But, most of all, the film is us. If you’ve ever been frustrated by the pursuit of your dreams or struggled to remain optimistic as success continues to elude you, then this film is for you. On some level, we’re all Audrey Brodsky.