CAST: Julia Roberts, Blair Underwood, Catherine Keener, David Hyde Pierce, Mary McCormack, Nicky Katt, David Duchovny, Enrico Colantoni, Erika Alexander, Brad Pitt, Brad Rowe, David Fincher, Jerry Weintraub

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh

When you hear that this glitteringly cast movie is really a movie within a movie within a movie, you may feel uneasy. And you'll be right to feel uneasy. Steven Soderbergh's study of greed, narcissism, deceit, shabby sex and self-delusion in Hollywood is, for the most part, a trite, incoherent, punishing full-frontal assault on your desire for clear, logical, emotionally rewarding storytelling. For no discernible reason, Soderbergh (and screenwriter Coleman Hough) cruelly tease us up to the very last frame so that we never know if the actors getting fired, dumped, shafted, masturbated or asphyxiated are acting in "Full Frontal" or in "Rendezvous," a movie about a sexy journalist (Julia Roberts) interviewing a black, equally sexy TV star (Blair Underwood) who's getting his big-screen break as Brad Pitt's sidekick. Or maybe they're all in some other movie we don't know anything about. It doesn't help that roughly one half of the dialogue-heavy story has been shot with a digital camera by the director himself. Along with the popcorn, hot dogs, pizza and coke, the cineplexes should sell flashlights and Dramamine.

So is "Full Frontal" a mess? For sure. But, at times, it's a perversely enjoyable mess. There is true, playful chemistry between Roberts (blonde as the movie star, brunette as the movie-star interviewer) and Underwood (magnetic as the black dude who wants to do Denzel Washington one better by winning not only an Oscar but a beautiful white babe as well). And Nicky Katt is nutty perfection as an egomaniac playing Hitler in a shambles of a play called "The Sound and the Fuhrer." Splendid too are David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener as a wimpy Los Angeles Magazine reporter and his cheating ballbreaker of a wife who's looking for love in all the wrong Tinseltown places. Not too surprisingly, Brad Pitt is a natural playing Brad Pitt--at least, I think he's supposed to be Brad Pitt.

This fidgety, self-referential, essentially silly comedy will disappoint those who look upon Soderbergh as the Great American Director. As for me, I can't really complain. I thought "Traffic" was a mess.