An all-the-angles-working film publicist seeks earthly happiness. Failing that, she throws a bunch of parties.
“In Hollywood,” observes our protagonist, “you only fail upward.” Perhaps so, but mess up a gift bag, and the prospects of becoming a bag lady loom large. Alex Davidson, whom we met in de Vries’s So 5 Minutes Ago (2004), is now 36 and just a touch desperate to settle down again, though not so much that she’ll turn off her cell phone. The worm has definitely turned, she realizes, when her opposite-coast mother asks her for tips on what to put in the gift bags she’s getting together for her next party, the celebrity requirement that swag come with any appearance now having entered the general culture. Alex knows all about this; jetting her way east, she has to contend with a gift-bag crisis of epic proportions, for party-giver Jennifer, “a former exotic dancer and now bride-to-be of Jeffrey Hawker, the much-married, much-divorced star of the long-running sitcom Lovin’ It,”is about to melt down over the fact that the gift-bag garters have a matte, not sateen, finish. Alex is having a meaningful something with a partner in her firm, the studly Charles, so that now she’s “no longer the Emma-Thompson-lonely-spinster but a slutty Britney Spears wannabe stuck in a Woody Allen fantasy sequence with my Rittenhouse-Square-lunch-at-the-club mother.” (Whew!) Alas, even in Hollywood, happy endings are hard to come by, and, meanwhile, there’s yet another childish star to coddle. De Vries’s storyline is a soufflé, but she has a sharp eye and a good ear, and she turns in wise observations on a town little known for wisdom: Why is it, she muses, that men can’t close a deal, always leave something for someone else to pick up? When did it come to pass “that the only movies you see on planes are the losers?” Curious minds want to know.
The Day of the Locust it ain’t—but de Vries’s slight confection offers great entertainment.