David Giancola's cheapo, disingenuous doc contributes one painful scene to the collective understanding of what it must feel like to be a drug-addled tabloid bombshell trying to give the world something more than the one thing it already wants—and, thanks to Playboy, has pretty much already enjoyed. On the set of the T&A sci-fi comedy Illegal Aliens, Anna Nicole Smith fights to get through a speech that she herself wrote: She is to break character, launch into a fit of rage about the sloppy script, and demand "Who do I have to fuck to get out of this movie?" In response, crew members will raise their hands into the shot. It's a dark joke that demonstrates Smith's awareness of the transactional nature of her celebrity: Sex had gotten her into the will of that tycoon and into the tabloids—maybe it could get her out of a go-nowhere indie, too. But Smith can't get her own words out. Giancola, also the director of Illegal Aliens, hired a crew to film her on set, guaranteeing that if the fiction movie proved a train wreck, at least he'd have train-wreck footage to peddle. Other than that stab at metafictional truth-telling, there's little in Giancola's footage worth noting, and Addicted to Fame is padded with Giancola's attempts to sell Illegal Aliens—and his insensitivity and shamelessness as tragedies mount: first the death of Smith's son, then her own. This is the story of a failed attempt to exploit the sad, dumb, tragic life of a woman famous only because she liked drugs and married rich and seemed dumb and enough men liked to masturbate to her. That it itself is bound to fail is some consolation.
Smith on the set of her last movie.
Opens Fri., Nov. 30 at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated. 89 minutes.