"Is this picture still about a queer killing people in his mother's dress?" asks Paramount chief Barney Balaban (Richard Portnow) before refusing to finance Psycho for Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins). The rejection plummets Hitch ("Hold the 'cock,'" the droll prankster playfully tells his closeted leading man) into despair, causing him to have hallucinations of Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the real-life model for Norman Bates (James D'Arcy). Ron Howard usually is the one who abuses such hoary devices, and I doubt the Master of Suspense would be amused by their presence in director Sacha Gervasi's biopic. Nor do I think that Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), Hitch's long-suffering screenwriter wife, would have appreciated John J. McLaughlin's nyuk-nyuk script, which never overlooks an opportunity to wink at the audience. At his lowest, Hitch refers to an early edit of Psycho as "stillborn." That description also applies to this film.