15 April 2015 | lor_
Unconvincing romance from Paul Thomas
Late in his career Paul Thomas signed up with New Sensations to make two films for their crossover porn series of Romances (the kind that get pay-cable airings in bowdlerized cuts). This one designated under the Swingers label suffers from an unconvincing Raven Touchstone script and miscasting of the lead role.
Brooklyn Lee is the actress in question, winner of many industry awards, none of which I take seriously. She plays a tough ad agency exec who takes her co-worker Johnny Pistol (she's actually his boss) with her to a swingers' club with no ties between them. Movie's theme, heavily stated and restated in the Touchstone scenario, is the modern wish to avoid romance at all costs and not to become burdened with jealousy, drama and all the other baggage of a serious relationship.
In rom-com tradition (whether mainstream or XXX) we know the couple will come to their senses and hook up for sex and dare one say, love, in the final reel, but getting there is no fun this time. Film shares its title and high-concept with the real (Mila Kunis) FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, but little else.
Lee gives a flat, vacant eyed performance that perhaps passed muster in her innumerable gonzo or "parody" crap assignments, but cannot carry Thomas's film for five minutes let alone 2 and a half hours. She is almost immediately upstaged by her gal pal sidekick Krissy Lynn, a bosomy beauty who gets the film's first extended sex scene (a flashback with swinger Steven St. Croix) and who delivers plenty of emotion and vulnerability under the spotlight.
Tony De Sergio has a plum role as the head of the swingers' group, and performs his XXX duties with aplomb in a jail-bait mixed combo threesome starring Skin Diamond and the always passive Jonni Hennessy. Our hero Mr. Pistol (not to be confused I guess with the reliable veteran Tommy Gunn, who would have been too old for this role) plays an unfleshed out character, and when the romantic twists and turns start piling up late in the film, Touchstone's screenplay gives him poor motivations and fake contrivances to create conflict with Lee. Even the initial premise of two unattached friends venturing into the deep waters of '60s style swinging doesn't ring true -it might have played better had PT made this film back in the '80s.
Condoms are in the spotlight per some inane safe-sex policy and detract from the action, especially in a scene with St. Croix where (via a lap dissolve) a condom magically appears on his cock just in time for intercourse.
Cast as Lynn's jealous and drunken husband, Alec Knight (like Lynn) delivers a winning performance while also scoring quality bed time with Bailey Blue. The hot & heavy Lee/Pistol finale (plus a pretentious ending) is strictly gonzo sex, somehow ignored by the Adult Industry organizations who shall I say pander to distributors come awards time.
In a mainstream rom-com the leads of a Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant caliber would never have been allowed to be overshadowed by their necessary but subservient supporting players (you just know diva Julia wouldn't stand for it), so PT blundered big time here.
I'll be checking out the companion film from New Sensations/PT soon, SHARED WIVES, and see how that one stacks up.