The Stand In: The BRWC Review

The Stand In: The BRWC Review

The Stand In: The BRWC Review. By Beth Widdicombe.

The Stand In – a dark comedy starring Drew Barrymore in dual role of both Star and Stand-in, directed by Jamie Babbitt ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’, ‘Russian Doll’, and written by Sam Bain ‘Peep Show’, ‘Four Lions’. 

Candy Black is a box-office comedy franchise superstar, an American sweetheart with a tagline as famous as she is. Candy Black is also a disenchanted, whiskey and eight ball consuming diva. After an infamous on-set fracas, captured by a disgruntled crew member, she goes into exile on her New Jersey Estate. With interiors and a sloppy appearance to rival other famous recluses Howard Hughes and Greta Garbo, we find her at the lowest of the low, about to go to rehab to escape a prison term for 6.5 million dollars’ worth of tax evasion.

Currently in an anonymous phone relationship with a writer called Steve (Michael Zegan), under the pseudonym of Cathy the Carpenter, she enlists the help of her old stand-in, Paula, as she fears losing him as she cannot give him an explanation for her upcoming hiatus. 

Paula is insipid, ambitious and currently living in her car and working in an old people’s home…she is in no position to say no to Candy’s request. Like all good stand-ins, she sees the potential for fame, and agrees under the proviso that Candy takes up acting in the future and hires her for her good turn.

Realising that Steve and Candy’s desire for a quiet life away from fame will ruin her return, Paula gets in the way and separates the pair by moving into a new stand-in role as Cathy/Candy off-screen too. Taking advantage of Candy’s reluctance to return to public life, she steps into all her media appearances, and goes on a Global ‘apology tour’ in her place. As time goes by, she seeps into all aspects of her life, and becomes an unhinged doppelgänger…enjoying the limelight and her new social media stardom. With many cameos from the world of Saturday night television, Graham Norton and Jimmy Fallon to name but a few, bringing authenticity to the film. As the plot continues, we see a more satirical turn on the realities of modern movie stardom, and a reality check on what’s important in life.

Having fully infiltrated Candy’s life, Paula successfully manages to rid herself of the real Candy – however, as director Barbara (Holland Taylor) says “any asshole can be a celebrity, you’re an actress and a gifted one, stop apologising and start acting” – and Paula soon learns that the grass is not always greener, and not all that glitters is gold.

This film is an effective look at the trials and tribulations on the life of the rich and famous, the ambitious and ruthless wannabes and a pitch for the simple life. Both leading roles played effectively by Hollywood royalty and old school film darling Drew Barrymore, you will certainly not be disappointed if you’re in the mood for a dark comedy, with an underlying moral tone.

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Prop Maker by day, film fanatic by nature. Could programme a VHS at the age 2 and has not stopped consuming since.


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