One moment in the film L.A. Superheroes pierces through the hoary concept, cliché-addled script, and weak ensemble acting. It’s when aging, failed model-actress Helena (film producer and screenwriter Yelena Popovic) snaps at a friend who blames her for her lack of Hollywood success.
“I worked,” she says angrily. “I worked like a dog and it just didn’t happen for me.” Nothing else in Superheroes, allegedly “based on a true story,” carries that spark of truth — or any reason to care about the people onscreen. When Helena, in America on an expired work visa, buys a fake birth certificate, she’s snagged by government agents who entice her to turn snitch on her supplier.
Neither her bitchy agent nor her loser boyfriend is of any use after Helena goes turncoat — and fears being offed by the mob. Only a flop actor-musician from her drama class (a cringe-inducing character who spouts hackneyed insights about the superficiality of L.A. and its beautiful women) sticks by her as her life unravels.
The viewer might forgive much — cheap sets, bad sound, and even third-rate acting — if the film had mined the layered tenuousness of life as an undocumented immigrant, failed actor, and aging woman in an unforgiving city.
Instead, it’s a movie by people who lifted almost all their ideas from much better movies, and lean too heavily on “based on a true story” to pave over their film’s weaknesses.