California Dreams is a documentary that explores the dark side of Hollywood and the auditioning process. The film’s central focus is Cory, an aspiring actor who longs to audition for a movie, any movie, all while attempting to land a day job and make friends with other actors.
In regard to California Dreams the term “documentary” is used loosely.
There were aspects of the film that followed the traditional documentary formula and then other times it felt like a nicely produced short film. While the feature does follow Cory’s character (who is playing himself), you spend the whole movie wishing it were following someone, anyone else. Director Mike Ott has an interesting cast of characters to pick from, leaving you wondering what drew him to Cory.
If Cory Zacharia created the persona of “Cory” for the sake of entertainment, someone should inform him that he it doesn’t resonate. His mannerisms, voice and actions are the exact opposite of what you want in your leading man. It takes everything in your power to not walk away. Mark or Kevin would have been much stronger central subjects, either of which would have been more bearable. As it sits, the film is a jagged pill to swallow.
California Dreams saving grace is the cinematography of the film. It’s actually quite beautifully shot, capturing angles really well. Sadly the sluggish film wastes away the shots of Lancaster, CA that you find yourself being drawn to.
When someone sets out to make a documentary it is in an effort to educate and shine a different light on a particular subject. California Dreams does educate the viewer on the fact that there are thousands of people with the same dream - to be a star - and not every one has the talent in which to achieve their goals.
In one beautifully shot example, you see actress Carol Kraft holding a faux Oscar while thanking the Academy Awards (and really, who hasn’t). But she sits alone as she rambles through her acceptance speech, showcasing the loneliness that can come with a dream in show business.