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With: Sarah Silverman, Sam Seder, H. Jon Benjamin, David Cross, Andy Dick, Kathy Griffin, Marc Maron, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Written by: Sam Seder, Charles Fisher
Directed by: Sam Seder
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 94
Date: 01/01/1997

Who's the Caboose? (1997)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Getting Into the Act

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I have nothing but adoration for cute-n-sassy comic Sarah Silverman (Jesus Is Magic), but this early faux-documentary is not one of her most interesting projects. Maybe in 1997 it would have seemed like a fresh idea, but now it's terribly tired. A documentary crew decides to follow Susan Underman (Silverman) to Los Angeles for "pilot season," which is in the first four months of every year. Actors of all stripes try for parts on various television pilots, any of which may or may not get turned into a series.

Susan's boyfriend, performance artist Max Rabin (Sam Seder) follows her from New York. He's very cynical and can't wait to get out of there, until a slick entertainment lawyer (Jon Benjamin) discovers him and begins generating heat around him, despite the fact that no one has actually seen Max do anything. Meanwhile, Susan's auditions go badly, with lots of comments about how she has that "New York thing" and how she's "ethnic." When she finally does land a part, the producers ask her to bleach her hair blonde.

Andy Dick turns up as Susan's manager and contributes nothing funny. And David Cross has a boring little rant about how an artist must divide up his paycheck among agents, PR people, and other handlers. You've heard all these Hollywood jokes before; the best joke comes in the first two minutes, in which we learn that the documentary crew originally found funding for a film about a rare, fatal disease among homeless people (the kind of documentary that wins Oscars), although Who's the Caboose? doesn't do much else with this joke.

The biggest shame, and the biggest irony here, is that Silverman is so underused, as if she had landed a part on a bad sitcom about an actress looking for a part on a bad sitcom. She lets a few of her trademark lines fly here and there, mostly improvised, it seems, but the Susan character is too much of a doormat to live up to Silverman's energy.

Seder directed and co-wrote the script (with Charles Fisher), and it was turned into a TV mini-series called "Pilot Season" in 2004. New Video released Who's the Caboose? on a new DVD in 2011, with no extras.

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