Approach "Movie movie," a parody of Silver Screen schmaltz, the same way a Crackerjacks lover sidles up to a box of caramelcoated corn - with the caveat that you've got to buy the whole box to get at the nify prize inside.
In "Movie Movie," you've got to wade through a sluggish parody of the underdog fighter on the ropes, "Dynamite Hands" - the first of two double-feature vignettes - to get a peak at a cheerfully satisfying bit of musical comedy call "Baxter's Beauties," more paean than parody, and virtually a direct plot steal from "42nd Street."
An upper-cut cast is not enough to redeem the saga of poor Joey Popchik (newcomer Harry Hamlin), a sincere city kid who foregoes lawschool to punch his way to the money his sister needs for an eye operation in "Dynamite Hands."
George C. Scott as rumpled manager Gloves Malloy is not match for the mobster panache of Vince Marlowe (Eli Wallach), who promises Joey a big fight in the Garden, only to deliver The Big Fix.
Stir the plot with Vince's peroxided tootsie, Troubles Moran, the tears of Joey's girlfriend (Trish Van Devere), several chicken-soup subplots worked over thoroughly from "Kid Galahad" to "Rocky," and you get too much that is predictable to punch up laughter in the name of parody.
But Movie ii, "Baxter's Beauties," is a familiar gem. Based on the Busby Berkley musicals of the 1930s, it fairly effervesces with Scott as dapper, heart-of-gold Broadway producer Spats Baxter who has been given a month to live by his doctor (Art Carney), a temperamental star (Van Devere, again) who is upstaged by an understudy (Rebecca York), a world-worn chorus girl named Trixie (Barnera Harris) and a bookkeeper who yearns to be a songwriter (Barry Bostwick).
After an electrifying audition, Bostwick keeps the show bubbling along, so-so songs notwithstanding. One wishes, however, that Trixie, a real McCoy as the aging chorus girl who dotes on Spats, could have been given a larger role.
Parody lovers are advised to duck "Dynamite Hands" for part Ii of "Movie Movie." Or for failsafe laughs, tune in the morning matinee for the real things, rather than watch Tinseltown attempt to pay homage to it in jest.
MOVIE MOVIE - Avalon 1, New Carrollton, Roth's Randolph, Roth's Silver Spring East, Roth's Tysons Corner and Sprongfield Cinema.