Aiming wide and missing, this satire of the contemporary-art scene was seemingly lifted from the transcripts of late-'80s Senate debates about the NEA. Two highly competitive brothers—Josh (Eion Bailey), a successful painter of dull hotel art, and Adrian (Adam Goldberg, who also serves as executive producer), a perpetually indignant, brow-furrowing composer of atonal music—fall for wildly ambitious New York gallerist Madeleine (Marley Shelton). Director Jonathan Parker, who co-wrote with Catherine DiNapoli (the duo behind 2001's Bartleby), wants to have it both ways, snidely mocking his protagonists and then granting them happy, art-affirming endings. Adrian scribbles furiously in his Moleskine, Madeleine wears noisy textured clothing (though Sarah Lawrence tees are her preferred sleepwear), and crybaby Josh wonders, "When did beauty become so fuckin' ugly?" Tepid spoofs of Damien Hirst and Charles Ray creations fall flat as finger-wagging proof of contemporary art's aesthetic bankruptcy, a Warholian-like aphasic thrown in for more laffs. (Untitled) tries to re-ignite who-gets-to-call-it-art debates that haven't been taken seriously for at least a decade—which may explain the recurring presence of a plastic bag that appears to have blown in off the set of American Beauty.
Shelton gets lost among the aesthetes.
Opens at Seven Gables, Fri., Nov. 13. Rated R. 96 minutes.