Plot: This movie chronicles the unbelievable journey of Illegal Aliens, a b movie that would be given national news coverage that most movies would dream of, but for all the wrong reasons. David Giancola had a vision for a fun, over the top b movie with some notable talent involved, namely Anna Nicole Smith. She would even invest her own money into the production, so despite horror stories about her on set antics, it looked as if things might go well for Illegal Aliens. But of course, things never go as planned and Giancola would find himself in nightmare after nightmare, trying to salvage the film as an endless chain of crisis situations arose. In Addicted to Fame, we’re taken inside the production with first hand interviews, behind the scenes footage, and news footage, all of which tells a story that has to be seen to be believed.
Entertainment Value: I’ve seen a lot of interesting on set documentaries, but very few offer a candid, honest look at film production, with most leaning on “it was a pleasure to work with…” interviews and other shallow, puff piece devices. But Addicted to Fame is one that shows a movie’s path, from inception to production to release, with no filter and no attempts to polish what happened. And given how controversial and shocking some elements of this story can be, it would have been easy to sugar coat the narrative, but that doesn’t happen. At the same time, the piece never feels like it takes shortcuts or cheap shots, if anything there is a definite sadness to this movie. The sense of what might have been for the movie, but also a great sense of loss over the real life events and Smith’s life and fate. This never feels like exploitation or trying to make a buck on her legacy, but a tribute to her final work, for better or worse.
I think most viewers will be drawn in by Anna Nicole Smith and she is a prominent part of the piece, through interviews and on set footage, while the tragic narrative of her final days is also covered here. As always, her charisma is always evident, as she struggles through her lines and goes off the deep end at times. The behind the scenes footage of her implementing a fourth wall breaking scene that she herself designed is so surreal, the kind of footage we rarely get to see for ourselves. David Giancola and John James also have a lot of screen time here and that makes sense, since they were the driving forces behind Illegal Aliens. The two hit some unbelievable roadblocks, so seeing how they coped, both personally and professionally, is the kind of insight that makes Addicted to Fame such an engaging watch. If you appreciate inside looks at how movies are made, marketed, and released, this is an insightful piece and fans of Anna Nicole will also be interested in this one.