Mondo. Just what is Mondo? As the narrator of "Mondo Hollywoodland" tries to find out, a traveler from the 5th dimension, by the way, we viewers tag along in search of the meaning of this strange five-letter word. At least, at the start of the film, because as the movie progresses, we hear less and less from our extraterrestrial traveler, and the story shifts more onto various groups of people - than the meaning of this dumb-sounding word. To me, "Mondo" kind of sounds like something a mutant teenage turtle would yell out - right?
John P. Ambros's film is kind of told in chapters, for lack of a better word. Segments focusing on specific groups of people with the traveler from the 5th dimension, kind of like the film's wrap-around. The common thread is the drugs, the weirdness, and of course, reader, Hollywood itself. Agents, actors, marches, ego, a missing pet, mushrooms, and on and on and on - that's the story of this film, and yes, I have to admit, it can be pretty funny. But this won't be a film for everyone, and for folks looking for any "real" story, you won't find it here. At least I didn't. "Mondo Hollywoodland" is more about the journey and the experience. Sure, there's probably a message hidden between the psychedelic imagery and music, but that's not what's going to make you stick around. Titans, weirdos, Narwhal's, broken lives, mushrooms, and dreamers - sounds like it could be pretty cool for a film, right? It can be so long as you know what you're getting into. This is not an ordinary film - but that unique nature is what makes it pretty cool.
The numerous characters themselves range from crazy to unlikable and everything in between. But it's this craziness that makes this movie so damn fun. What's even crazier is that as ridiculous as some of these mini-stories are, they also feel plausible. Like some of the content is ripped straight from real life. Maybe it is - I don't know. I've never experienced Hollywood. But again, reader, back to the basics of things - I did laugh quite a bit. "Mondo Hollywoodland" is like your favorite slap-stick comedy on, well, mushrooms and unleashed. I'm not going to lie and say there's an easy-to-follow story front and center, but in the end? It doesn't really matter. This is not a story-driven film - it's an experience. Period. I don't know how mainstream audiences will react to this movie, but I do know one thing for sure. "Mondo Hollywoodland" will no doubt find a niche audience - and why wouldn't it? It's got style - through and through.
So there you have it, reader, the spoiler-free (sort of) rundown of a very strange and cool indie flick. This is the definition of something different, and while it is pretty strange, it is also pretty fun to watch. I believe that even the casual viewer may find some love to give for this flick - even if it takes two sittings for them to watch. My advice? Grab your favorite alcoholic beverage, grab a friend or three and enjoy the ride. I did—three and a half stars.