Hollywood satires are nothing new, nor are self-deprecating performances that play on an actor's public image. But it takes a special sort of masochistic audacity to write, executive-produce, and star in a film—as Suddenly Susan's Nestor Carbonell does with Attention Shoppers—centered on the soul-crushing disparity between your perception of and the actual truth about your popularity and celebrity status. In the semi-autobiographical Attention Shoppers, Carbonell plays the self-described "fifth banana" on a show that, like Suddenly Susan, has attained commercial success without being remotely well-liked. Still giddy with the prestige afforded by his celebrity status, Carbonell jumps at the chance to sign autographs at the grand opening of a Kmart in Texas. A plane-ride conversation about the nature of power with Nietzsche-loving fellow celeb Luke Perry only increases Carbonell's enthusiasm for the event, but upon his arrival, he quickly receives a crash course in the fleeting nature of fame. Rather than frenzied adoration, he's looked upon with vague sociological curiosity by Kmart shoppers and employees less than impressed with his semi-celebrity status, and he soon becomes the victim of redneck bullies. As a writer, Carbonell displays a real talent for low-key observational humor, and Attention Shoppers benefits from an excellent supporting cast that includes Carlos Jacott, Kathy Najimy, Michael Lerner, and a scene-stealing Lin Shaye. But by the time Carbonell arrives at Kmart halfway in, the film's already less-than-breathless pace grinds to a halt, crippling it with a dire lack of forward momentum. Attention Shoppers isn't quite funny or compelling enough to qualify as a success, but its cast, dry comic tone, and admirable attention to detail make it one of the most interesting failures to be released directly to video this year.

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