In the role of Pam Beesley on the American version of The Office, Jenna Fischer has served as a role model for artistic, red-haired receptionists everywhere. (I write this, of course, as an artistic, red-haired receptionist.) However, before she played Pam on a sitcom disguised as a documentary, she played herself in 2004’s Lollilove, a satire disguised as a documentary.
Lollilove tells the story of Jenna and James Gunn (played by Fischer and her then-husband, Slither director James Gunn), a young, idealistic Hollywood couple of decide that they want to do something good for humanity. After giving it a lot of thought (at one point, we see that Jenna has written “Charity is hard!” in all caps in her diary), Jenna and James decide that their purpose in life is to pass out lollipops to the homeless. Recruiting Hollywood friends like Judy Greer, Jason Segal, and Linda Cardellini (all playing themselves), they set out to make their dream of homeless people sucking on lollipops a reality.
Clocking in at a brisk 64 minutes, Lollilove is like the Office’s slightly more psychotic cousin. In the best tradition of transgressive art, Lollilove is fully committed to its ludicrous story and, to its credit, it never wavers from pursuing its story to its ludicrous (if all too believable) ending.
A large reason why the movie works is because of the lead performances of Fischer and Gunn. Lollilove probably features Fischer’s best work outside of the Office and Gunn proves himself to be as good an actor as a director. Both of them bring a manic sincerity to their crazed alter egos. Mention should also be made of the homeless of Los Angeles who play themselves in the film’s final scene. Yes, when the “fictional” Gunns hand out their inspirational lollipops, they’re giving them to the real homeless.
And, it must be said, some of the homeless do seem to appreciate the gesture.
(As an added bonus: Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo in which he plays a priest and it has to be seen to be believed.)