In “Danny Roane: First Time Director,” the title character is a former sitcom star who is now in the process of botching his first attempt at filmmaking by relapsing into alcoholism. “Danny Roane: First Time Director” is the work of Andy Dick, a former sitcom star who has botched his first attempt at filmmaking with a weak screenplay and an over-reliance on poop and puke jokes. So art imitates life yet again.
Dick wrote and directed the film and plays Danny Roane, one-time star of “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” and a perpetual drunk. He bottomed out a few years and disappeared from public view while he went to rehab. Now clean and sober, Danny has written a screenplay called “Dead Dream” that tells the story of his descent into, and triumphant return from, addiction. The movie we’re watching — “Danny Roane: First Time Director” — is a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of “Dead Dream,” starting with Danny’s pitch to studio executives and ending with the premiere screening.
I needn’t tell you, I’m sure, that Danny’s filmmaking efforts are disastrous. His production designer (Michael Hitchcock) is a masochist who keeps working for Danny despite the abuse he receives. His assistant director (Kevin P. Farley) is gung-ho and eager to please, but also obsessed with shaving all the male actors’ body hair.
For his part, Danny casts James Van Der Beek in the leading role and wants Ben Stiller to play a horse (both actors very gamely appear, no doubt owing favors to Andy Dick for one reason or another). And only a few days into production, Danny starts drinking again, goes on a bender, and comes back deciding the film should now be a musical.
All of this is funny for the first 20 minutes or so as Dick puts his talented group of comedic actors and improvisers to work lampooning Hollywood foolishness. But as Danny Roane’s movie spirals madly out of control, so does Dick’s. It quickly loses focus and becomes an endless series of scenes in which Danny’s drunkenness creates on-the-set mayhem, and never in a creative, clever or satirical way. It’s alarming how often bodily functions play into the jokes, and it gets old fast.
By the end, Dick has resorted to the last refuge of a desperate would-be shock comedian: Hitler jokes. And not even jokes, really, just Danny running around yelling, “Hitler! Hitler!” “Danny Roane: First Time Director” is a chance to watch two filmmakers, one real and one fictional, screw up their movies at the same time.
D+ (1 hr., 25 min.; )