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California Dreams is the latest project from director Mike Ott. In his latest comedy documentary, we are presented with 5 subjects who are all interested in working in the movie business. As their stories play out we begin to learn the deeper meaning behind their love for Hollywood and their desire to work in the movie industry.
The primary subject of this film is Cory Zacharia. He is the focus of much of the film and is often seen talking about his hope and dreams with the other cast and his mom. Corey is struggling to find $900 so he can pursue his acting dream in Germany where a friend has promised him a major acting role if he can come up with the cash to get there. This proves to be more that just a little bit difficult as we learn that Corey, who is in his mid-twenties, hasn't had a job in nearly 8 years. He is just floating through life and living with his mom, but he definitely has a desire for more for his life.
We also meet Patrick Ilaguno a 28-year-old Phillipeno man who grew up next to a movie theater in the Phillipeans and was so enamored with the movies there he actually briefly believed that Forest Gump was a documentary film. After immigrating to the US and working at Six Flags as a parking lot attendant he studies acting, including volunteering at film festivals around the country.
One of the more colorful characters we encounter in this film is Kevin Gilger AKA the dog impersonator. After several staged scenes in the film, we learn his passion for the character he emanates and how he would love to portray Dog The Bounty Hunter in a biographic film.
Mike Ott has crafted an very intimate and often times amusing look at the lives of the average American and allows us to see the Hollywood and American dream through their eyes. It is often times amusing and even at times dark, because, much like Hollywood, all that glitters isn't gold. The desire for these individuals to better themselves and their situation is definitely there. Whether they make it in any serious acting roles outside of this film remains to be seen (though a few of them already have experience in small acting parts here and there). We learn a lot about what makes them tick and why they are the way they are. Some just happy to grab what little scraps of fame they can and others just trying to make a legacy for themselves and prove they still got it. I am not gonna lie part of me watched this film with the thought in the back of my head saying "If Napoleon Dynamite had been a documentary...".
Mike Ott has certainly given us an interesting look into the minds of 5 everyday Americans and I personally found it pretty interesting to see. Though not set up like a typical documentary and the fact that there are parts of this that feel unfinished, it is not an unsatisfactory watching experience. Even the opening ending, of course, reminds us that these people's lives will carry on and that their dreams of making it in Hollywood are still alive and well and will continue to be strived for long after the last credit rolls of the screen. Overall we scored California Dreams with a solid B. This may not be a film for everyone, but the dreamers of the world should definitely take a look.