Chump Change (2000)

Rating: C-

Dir: Stephen Burrows
Star: Stephen Burrows, Traci Lords, Tim Matheson, Jerry Stiller

Based on writer-director Burrows’ real-life experiences battling studio monsters in Hollywood, it’s a tale told in flashback to girlfriend Traci Lords (sorry – make that Traci Elizabeth Lords, but if she’s now so keen to forget her past career, why is she still using her fake porn star name?) after he’s scurried back home to Wisconsin. There are a lot of bizarre characters present, most notably Matheson as a studio executive obsessed with “crotch whacks” – that he ends up dying from a lawn-dart to the head, tells you whereabout this is pitched.

Burrows seems overly fond of milking his jokes: if we see one montage of Milwaukee pubs, we see five, and a lot of the best humour comes from the ones which are not over-played. For example, at one point, The Poseidon Adventure shows the hero that life still has meaning – a little later, a polka band strike up its main theme, without fuss. [This is just after we get to see Ms. Lords dancing to The Birdie Song – I kid you not] More of that restraint and subtlety would have been welcome; as is, it’s more like ninety minutes of the aforementioned crotch whacks.