cover image Popcorn


Ben Elton. Thomas Dunne Books, $22.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-16965-7

Bruce Delamitri is hot. He makes hip, ultra-violent, post-postmodern movies that everybody wants to be in. Kids think he's cool, and critics think he's a genius. He's got a mansion in Hollywood. He's up for an Oscar. Essentially, he's a thinly veiled version of Quentin Tarantino. But all is not entirely well in La-La Land, as English novelist-playwright Elton goes on to show in this entertaining, action-packed satire. A pair of homicidal maniacs known as the Mall Murderers--aka muscle-bound Wayne and his gun moll, Scout--are ravaging the nation. They're claiming that Bruce's movies drove them to it, and they're on their way to California to confront him. Elton has written a fast and unusually funny Hollywood thriller with all the right elements: a Playboy centerfold-turned-actress, a wisecracking New York agent, a spoiled Beverly Hills princess and any number of empty-headed anchormen and -women. Elton's ear for American mediaspeak is good, if not perfect, and he gets off his share of nifty one-liners. Less successful are the extended parodies of Tarantino's screenplays and Elton's heavy-handed attempts to make a serious point about media culture, namely, that Americans are too quick to blame the media for social ills for which they should be taking responsibility. Elton is at his waspish, Waugh-ish best when he sticks to what he does best: popcorn. Film rights optioned by Joel Schumacher. (Nov.)