"Way Off Broadway" has one thing going for it — up-and-coming actress Morena Baccarin and her dazzling smile, which could light up just about anything. Anything except this film.

Unfortunately, Baccarin and her smile are stuck in something that doesn't deserve either. This alleged comedy is a predictable, show business-centric ensemble piece — as if that particular idea hadn't been done before. And as if such a thing would interest anyone outside of show-business circles.

It doesn't help that the film looks and sounds very much like a sitcom, and not a very good one, as it follows five twentysomethings who are trying to make it in New York City. The glue that holds the group together is Rebecca (Baccarin, from Fox's late, lamented "Firefly" TV series), a promising young actress keeping busy by going from one audition to the next.

However, that doesn't stop her from having an active social life, as well as a rather confusing romantic life, as she tries to choose between two members of the group — film-obsessed Mickey (Michael Parducci) and Darren (Brad Beyer), a would-be playwright. Meanwhile, painfully shy Ethan (Jordan Gelber) and musician Jay (Forbes March) are unsure about what they want to do with the rest of their respective lives.

All you really need to know about this material is that writer/director Daniel Kay claims it was inspired by the vastly overrated 1995 Sundance Film Festival hit "The Brother McMullen." That explains a lot, from the soap opera plotting to some dreadful performances. Not that Kay can be blamed completely for the latter, but he did help choose this cast.

Baccarin gives this material a game effort. She's stuck trying to play off both Beyer and Parducci, neither of whom has any chemistry with her. Gelber and March fare a little better, but their characters and subplots aren't given any time to develop.

"Way Off Broadway" is not rated but would probably receive an R for occasional use of strong sexual profanity, some frank sexual talk, simulated sex (some of it done for laughs), brief drug use (marijuana), and a brief flash of full male nudity. Running time: 90 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com