9 August 2010 | lor_
When is silliness too much in porn?
I like many of Shaun Costello's films, especially his classic get-even movie MORE THAN SISTERS, where Brian De Palma's career of ripping of Hitch was finally rewarded by getting ripped himself. You gotta like Shaun -he's perhaps the only filmmaker from back in the day who regularly posts stuff on IMDb about his own films.
But I have to draw the line with THE TYCOON'S DAUGHTER. This celebration of amateurishness offends my sense of humor, and should have stayed in the can.
Premise is simple: Three goof balls (Marc Stevens, Mary Stuart and Ashley Moore, kidnap billionaire Hugh Howard's daughter from Chicago and head for Des Moines (or wherever), planning on a 7 figure ransom. They never get very far because along the way auteur Shaun Costello has no script and the punch-drunk actors' idiotic improvising paints them into a porno corner they can't escape. And neither can the audience.
This is all an excuse for lots of hardcore, strictly outdoor sex. I've seen plenty of amateur films, and now in this era of YouTube we're probably headed for an all-amateur future. But the level of ineptness here is breathtakingly horrible.
First off, the necessity of giving a character in many TV series, and plenty of mediocre movies, the same name as the actor's real first name is demonstrated here by failing to do so. Creepy Marc Stevens calls actress Mary Stuart "Mary" because he forgot her fictional name Trish. Later he refers to hostage Martha as "Mitchell" -pretty funny political joke! He has the same problem with farmer Josh -when they meet as "old friends" (that's made up too), Marc fumbles around with calling him his real name Jeff, or Jed or Jason or half a dozen other Js - he just can't remember Josh. He does this not once but repeatedly and pretty soon has the entire cast in stitches.
That's the running motif throughout the film, and it wears out its welcome in a hurry. None of the action makes any sense, as the cast stalls, fumbles and basically cannot advance from point A to B. If this were a TV miniseries, it would take about 10,000 hours to complete at the progress captured here.
Suffice it to say that after driving around with hostage Martha (played by an unidentified actress, for whom TYCOON'S DAUGHTER was anything but a career boost), tying her up and seeking assistance in a nearby farmhouse, the stupid bunch never gets through to daddy with the ransom call. The shredded print ends in the middle of one of Stevens' several unfunny phone conversations (we hear only his side), unable to get the billionaire on the line. He apparently heard a Bob Newhart comedy record once, but neither Bob nor Shelley Berman has any competition to worry about here.
Stevens is one of those annoying performers who is so full of himself the viewer is closed out of the equation. Currently Kevin Spacey & Nic Cage both hit me the same way, but fortunately neither of them does sex films (Allah be praised!).
The rest of the cast goes along with Marc's antics but there's no saving this mess. The only one I enjoyed was Shelley Duvall-resembling Judy Craven as the farmer's wife, who actually gets an interesting talkative routine going. Sadly, all three women in the cast are not very attractive, and the sex is unerotic throughout. Shaun even throws in a closeup of kidnapper Ashley Moore relieving himself for bad measure.
Soundtrack is definitely insulting, trying to sound corn pone in order to match the "sticks" locale of the "story". Someone filed the obvious songs played for IMDb listing in the soundtrack section (Flatt & Scruggs, Scott Joplin) but somehow missed a couple of tracks from Claude Bolling's classic "Borsalino" score (notable for its old-timey piano sound) and even a hot wax steal of Gato Barbieri's "Last Tango in Paris" theme (the soundtrack LP was still fresh in the record stores when this movie was made).
This is garbage through and through and Costello knows it. Endlessly winking at the viewer doesn't solve the problem, it exacerbates it. Yeah, I know, now everything is inverted -bad is good, etc. Not in my book.