Saturday, July 30, 2011


     If you’ve ever been a tourist in a strange, but exciting city (and I’m sure most of you have), then you’ve seen them in practically every tourist town in America, from theme parks to fried chicken stands: average people dressing up as famous cartoon and movie characters, enchanting the kids and posing for pictures with the family.  Most of the time, these ‘characters’ are minimum wage employees sponsored by local businesses and theme parks with the sole intention of entertaining patrons. . 
     If you walk down
Hollywood Boulevard
, you are likely to come across a myriad of these costumed characters along the way, especially in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Often times, these may be the first people to greet tourists as they take their inaugural stroll through one of the most famous cities in the world. For better or worse, these are the unofficial ‘Ambassadors Of Hollywood’.
     From Elmo to Batman, Snow White to Captain Jack Sparrow, these ‘characters’ that mingle with hundreds if not thousands of people daily are not employed by the city of Hollywood or any of the businesses that line the street. They work strictly on tips and this most likely is their only source of income. While some of the faces behind the masks are out of work actors and comedians waiting until their next paying gig, most of them are homeless and, in many cases, emotionally unstable. Welcome to Hollywood!
     In Ambassadors Of Hollywood, filmmakers Archie Gips and Matthew Hunt take an intimate and often-times uncomfortable look at the real people behind these characters. From a troubled, semi-racist ex-con to a former Wall Street banker, each and every one of the film’s subjects is fascinating. Even though a few of them are as down-to-earth and likable as anyone you could meet, there are a handful of them that probably should not be allowed to mix with the general public at all. Some of these misguided miscreants have uncontrollable tempers while others are aggressively seeking money for their next fix.  The reason that Ambassadors Of Hollywood is so successful is that it takes an unbiased look at each of the individuals and leaves judgment up to the viewer.
     While there have been similar films made about this very subject, including the excellent Confessions Of A Superhero, this is a film that offers up a gritty, humorous sometimes disturbing but always fascinating glimpse into these seemingly innocent characters and the real people behind them.
     Growing up, almost every kid has a dream to become a rich and famous celebrity, but at some point, we’ve all abandoned those dreams and pursued more realistic goals. In Ambassadors Of Hollywood, we meet a group of people who have never given up on their dreams although society has all but given up on them. The film manages to show a darker, but still hopeful, side of the American Dream that we all can relate to.  While some may seem delusional on the surface, if you look hard enough, you will notice that they have never lost hope that their big break is just around the next corner.  And perhaps it is…
     In many ways, Ambassadors Of Hollywood is a reflection of life in any town. From the once-successful to the ne’er do well, these are the same types of people that you meet every single day. The only difference is these guys and gals are wearing costumes! 

1 comment:

Baz said...

Love! Here's a link to the DVD release/screening event at LA's Downtown Independent, along with the premiere of POP INC's BOULEVARD of BROKEN DREAMS, which explores a day in the life of Hollywood's longest running Chaplin impressionist, Pharaoh Kingsley: