In just its first six episodes, Big Time In Hollywood, FL already managed to run the Dolfe brothers through a a gamut of emotions (and intense experiences). They’ve gone from terrified for what it means to become adults, to afraid for their lives for kind of killing a man, to excited to get new opportunities in “the biz,” to deep hatred for each other to a lot more. At any point in Big Time In Hollywood, FL, Ben and Jack are experiencing some sort of creative, emotional attention deficit disorder that somehow doesn’t make them absolute cartoon characters and can even make them sympathetic (but also downright despicable) at times.
Because of these ups and downs, it’s almost easy to forget that this all started because Ben and Jack wanted to extort $20,000 from their parents as a result of them finally being kicked out of the house. Now they’re at the center of a federal investigation while also being pawns in an drug cartel’s dangerous game… with Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr.
But now, in “What Dreams May Come,” they’re finally making a real, Hollywood (Florida) feature film (also with Cuba Gooding Jr.), and it appears all of their dreams are finally coming true as a result of all of the lives they’ve ruined (including their own). Never mind that it also happens to be a part of the drug cartel; it’s not like the brothers know that, after all.
With three more episodes now left in the season, this one in particular feels more like a transitional episode, assuming that new plots introduced in it won’t immediately be resolved in next week’s episode, “Monkey Largo.” It’s another good episode, but it doesn’t reach the heights of the past three episodes, and it doesn’t really need to.
After the falling out in “A Night In,” Jack and Ben are finally able to resolve their issues as they were kidnapped and stuffed in a van at the end of “Separate But Equal.” The very concept of the two of them arguing and reconciling while tied up with bags over their heads is a ridiculous one, so to see Big Time In Hollywood, FL execute it without even a hint of insincerity is pretty terrific, and it’s the beginning of a great string of Ben and Jack scenes, which continue with them making it rain on their parents and writing a movie script over night. Also, Del has a surprisingly poignant scene in this episode, where he reveals to Darla that he dreams of a life of adoration and a feeling of importance, one that his friends” can never truly give him. It’s another amazingly honest scene in an otherwise bizarre show.
“What Dreams May Come” has plenty of solid moments, but the episode is really best for creating new scenarios for the rest of the season. Of course, the ball is in Ben and Jack’s court (in their minds) since they can finally make a “real” film. Del is now an integral part of Malloy’s Holgado investigation—instead of just an oddly-shaped puzzle piece—as his man on the inside. He also possibly has one pissed off Darla to deal with, since this forced being dragged back into the world of the Dolfe brothers’ filmmaking and abuse causes him to miss his chance to run away with his beloved to Orlando. Malloy is actually getting even more on the inside as he’s able to infiltrate the Dolfe circle even more by befriending Alan and planting a bug in their house. And Alan and Diana… are in counseling.
Unfortunately, the episode’s biggest weakness comes in the form of Alan and Diana’s plot. The Dolfe parents and their struggles with their messy children has always (in such few episodes) fascinating, as they’re supposedly good parents who created such delusional monsters. The power of their love has apparently endured all of this insanity, but now, there are problems, and for that we get a weak counseling plot this episode. On the one hand, it’s another example of Big Time In Hollywood, FL’s ability to pull amazing casting almost out of thin air, as Jane Kaczmarek is a fantastic and pleasant surprise as the Dolfe parents’ therapist. On the other, what begins as an interesting concept—with Diana’s fantasy of the perfect family life—becomes a sex dream joke about how Alan really wants to have a threesome. It’s simply a far cry from Alan and Diana’s romantic night in the fantastic “A Night In,” and not just because there’s no screw top wine.
But as that plot relies on fantasy after fantasy, it brings me back to my theory from the previous episode of this possibly being a fever dream or one of the boys’ films. Again it makes sense in this episode, especially with Darla’s truck incident that leaves her with nothing but a scratch on her forehead, instead of flattened like a Looney Tunes character.
Then again, this could also just be a surreal world where it’s becoming increasingly harder to determine what’s really happening and what is a fantastic, stylized version of what’s happening. Take, for example, Darla (and the extras) at the bus stop, in their Age Of Adaline period garb. And Jack and Ben entering their parents’ home dressed in their five million dollar pimp wear honestly feels like another one of their fantasies until it just keeps going. The lines between fantasy and reality in Big Time In Hollywood, FL are getting blurred, and if nothing else, it’s probably safe to assume it’s an intentional choice on Anfanger and Schampf’s part.
- In Diana’s perfect world, Jack is a lawyer (who sent Del to prison, where Del was murdered), and Ben is a politician. Both are married. Neither are pulling knives on each other at Thanskgiving dinner.
- Ben: “I can only imagine what you did to get us kidnapped.”
Jack: “I didn’t do anything. What did you do?”
Ben: “I didn’t do anything. Maybe it’s because you got Jimmy Staats killed. Remember that, dickhead?”
Jack: “Oh, are you calling me a dickhead or you calling Jimmy a dickhead? ‘Cause, pretty hard to tell where you’re putting the comma.”
Ben: “I’m calling you a dickhead, Jack! You! No comma!”
- At no point do the brothers ask Cuba (who’s rocking a prosthetic pinky finger thanks to Holgado) why his house is foreclosed on, especially when he’s able to get them a five million dollar film budget. Nor do they really think about the fact that there was no good reason for him to kidnap them. Then again, the fact that all of their scripts take 2 to 3 years to write (which is why they shoot sans script) is the best touch of the Dolfe brothers’ hackery yet.
- Del’s “I’m in love” and heel click is the most adorable thing I’ve seen in a while.
- Here’s a reason Big Time In Hollywood, FL needs a second season: Dolph Ziggler (who is billed as living in Hollywood, FL) has to show up at least once. At least. Once.