The Beta Test Review

Hollywood Animals

By Curt Wiser

The Beta Test, the new indie feature from Writer/Director Jim Cummings gives us a rare glimpse into the life of a Hollywood Agent. A subject we have not seen since “The Player” or “Swimming With Sharks.”

Jim Cummings stars as Jordan Hines, an engaged Agent who hits a downward spiral when he receives a mysterious letter for an anonymous sexual encounter. This is the world of self-absorbed, status culture, the land of Teslas and teeth whitening strips.

It is clear that Jordan and PJ, his agent friend played by PJ McCabe (“13 Cameras”) know to tread lightly in the wake of the me too movement. The movie is not overt about this thankfully, this paranoia just adds to the tension of the narrative.

Virginia Newcomb (“The Walking Dead, The Office”) plays Caroline, Jordan’s Fiancee with stoic grace. Will she find out his secret? Is their relationship even worth saving?

The Beta Test is a gonzo dark comedy. By that I mean, it has some great surreal moments that really catch you off guard, the way life can sometimes. Examples would be the innovative ways the movie used to represent our primitive, carnal desires.

Even the fictional agency Jordan works for is a not-so-subtle nod to this. A.P.E. is plastered all over the doors and office walls of the agency. Just another reminder of the story’s theme, that deep down we have primal urges that modern civilization requires us to resist.

Jim Cummings fully embraced the character of Jordan, with all his insecurities and flaws. Some of the strongest character elements reminded me of one of my favorite dark comedies, “American Psycho.” Perhaps that sums it up best, this movie is The Player meets American Psycho.

It is worth pointing out that Jim Cummings not only stars, but is a Writer, Director and Editor of The Beta Test. This was not just for the economy of it all. Cummings had the same roles in front and behind the camera with his debut feature “Thunder Road.” Fellow actor PJ McCabe is also a credited writer and director of The Beta Test.

The pacing of The Beta Test is perfect, the acting is solid. If you are a fan of dark comedy I highly recommend The Beta Test. Lastly, this begs the question… does Jim Cummings have an agent? Well I know, but information is power these days, so I’ll never tell.

The Beta Test is currently streaming on Hulu and available on other platforms in the US. The movie has a March 11 release date in the UK and Ireland.

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