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This 'Shot' Misfires

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2004; Page WE47

Jeff Nathanson, who wrote two terrific screenplays for Steven Spielberg ("Catch Me if You Can" and "The Terminal"), doesn't make the perfect transition to double-hyphenate filmmaker. This movie, which he co-wrote and debut-directs, shows his comedic talents in fits and starts. There are some very funny passing lines, but the movie's too uneven to enjoy. And there's something a little too cringibly self-referential about life in Hollywood.

Matthew Broderick plays aspiring screenwriter Steven Schats, who thinks he has been given the directing green light of his life. A film producer (Alec Baldwin) has just agreed to produce his screenplay and is even insisting that Steven direct it. However, the whole project's a ruse. The "producer" is Joe Devine, an undercover FBI agent who's merely pretending to make a movie to entrap mobsters working in the film business.

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Steven's two-bit ambition is not exactly winning. And Joe's agenda isn't much more compelling. As for the movie's "knowing" commentary about Hollywood, it's neither inspired nor original. The best moments, ironically, come from an uncredited Joan Cusack, who plays a frustrated Hollywood player whose colorful language shakes up the mediocre movie around her.

THE LAST SHOT (R, 94 minutes) --Contains nudity, obscenity and some violence. At Landmark's Bethesda Row, Cineplex Odeon Shirlington and Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.

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