"G," by Christopher Scott Cherot, is being billed as a modern-day, hip-hop version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby." But for anyone to enjoy this starchy, contrived exercise in vanity and product placement, it's best not to have read the book, or any book.

At the center of the story is a man named Summer G (the potentially wonderful Richard T. Jones), a Diddy-like hip-hop producer who has amassed a fortune and recently moved into a seaside mansion. True to Fitzgerald's original story, G, as he's called, has moved there to win the affection of a social climber who is also the love of his life, a woman named Sky Hightower (Chenoa Maxwell), wife of snobby scion Chip (Blair Underwood).

Things go wrong, really wrong, meaning not that illusions are shattered or hearts are broken or people are killed -- although they are, they are and they are -- but that the plot is a shambles, the acting is atrocious and the production values are more concerned with getting Heineken and Ralph Lauren labels in the shot than anything like visual elegance. (In a case of art imitating life imitating art imitating life, "G" was produced by and co-stars Andrew Lauren, son of the Gatsby-esque Ralph, ne Ralph Lipschitz.)

It goes without saying that "The Great Gatsby's" fine metaphorical flourishes have been rubbished -- gone is the billboard with the God-like pair of eyes, the taunting green light at the end of an unattainable dock and Daisy's haunting lament that the best thing a girl can be in this world is "a beautiful little fool." Instead, "G" is simply a series of creakily constructed billboards that leave only nagging questions about who green-lighted this pretty foolish little movie.

-- Ann Hornaday