POPCORN by Ben Elton


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 A bad-boy Hollywood director is terrorized by a pair of mass murderers inspired by his violent films, in this tepid satire from British playwright and first novelist Elton. It's Oscar night, and Bruce Delamitri has just garnered Best Director accolades for his ironic masterpiece Ordinary Americans (body count: 57) and has embarrassed himself with a mawkish acceptance speech. He circulates through the Governor's Ball, fawning over the big stars and spewing rudeness at everyone else before leaving with Playboy model Brooke Daniels. When he brings her home for the requisite seduction, she pulls a gun on him and demands a screen test. He agrees, and the two fall into each other's arms. They're interrupted, however, by the arrival of Wayne and Scout, a.k.a. the Mall Murderers. These attractive but amoral guys, inspired by the pointless violence of Bruce's films, have come to wreak some unspecified havoc. After they settle in for a drink, Wayne needles Brooke with provocative questions while waifish Scout feigns mortification. Bruce's agent is unfortunate enough to drop by uninvited (he's shot). Then Bruce's ex-wife Farrah and daughter Velvet show up; Brooke gets shot, and Wayne phones NBC. Two intrepid TV journalists, stripped down to their underwear, are admitted into the house. Bruce faces off against his captors for a live-TV debate about violence in the movies. But as things get talky, the ratings drop, so Wayne shoots Farrah. SWAT teams storm Bruce's house, and everyone is killed but Bruce and Scout. Bruce's career is clearly at an end. Elton's satire, meantime, scolds the usual suspects (the movie industry and the media) for the usual reasons (shallowness, vanity, greed) and condemns just about everyone, from the screw-loose psychopaths to the irresponsible director to the viewing public who crave (have been conditioned to crave?) bloodshed. There are a few lukewarm laughs here, but, overall, it's one more tired exercise in Hollywood-flogging.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-16965-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


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