In Hollywoo Florence Foresti plays Jeanne: a Parisian voice artist who dubs the voice of American actress Jennifer Marshall (Nikki Deloach) into French for a Desperate Housewives-type American show that is hugely popular in France. Although the third series of the show gets the green light Jennifer unexpectedly quits the show leaving Jeanne without her salary being tripled or indeed a job. Jeanne flies to LA determined to convince the American actress to return to the show.
The film starts off as a light French comedy, playing to Foresti’s obvious sketch show slapstick strengths. She happily bundles through life having escaped the hell of constant auditions for commercials and has finally gotten some financial stability due to her voice over work. Furthermore, there are enjoyable scenes with Jeanne’s ever-pregnant sister who is the antithesis of her sibling along with Jeanne’s agent (Muriel Robin) who is all Paris hairstyle chic and false friendship. The costume design by Aurore Pierre, especially for the character of Jeanne, imbues Hollwoo with that particular brand of French style and this is put to especially poignant use once the action switches to LA.
Directors Berthe and Serieis really work with the LA light and pick locations that sustain the image so many of us have about the sun drenched, wealthy lifestyle of Hollywood. However, this is when the film starts to become unstuck. Instead of a French comedy, the film becomes more like a generic American comedy using the French-fish-out-of-water as its one trick pony. There is some hope for the script when Jeanne meets and teams up with Farres, Amélie’s Jamel Debbouze. Farres has been living the true LA reality and not the Hollywood dream and he befriends Jeanne after a convoluted attempt by both to crash a big Hollywood industry party. On the thinnest of chances, Jeanne does meet Jennifer Marshall and this sets the film’s rather lazy third act in motion.
The Hollywood characters are unimaginatively clichéd and some, though successful, are often unbelievably naïve in such a cut throat town and industry. Jeanne’s very Frenchness seems to render her completely ill-equipped to know how to even pre-book a hotel in a foreign country and people who don’t speak French manage to understand Jeanne remarkably well. Though Foresti and Debbouze are enjoyable company there is just not enough substance to make this film an actual funny comedy. Ultimately, Hollwoo itself feels like it really is a sub-par American comedy partially dubbed into French.