1 June 2015 | lor_
Tired throwback porn doesn't play
Paul Thomas returns unwisely to themes and content that was better suited to his 1990s dramas -the kind I used to see in edited form on the Playboy Channel. SHARED WIVES (even its release title an anachronism that sounded better in the Swinging '60s) is a non-starter that initiated New Sensations "Swingers" sub- label. The BTS featurette indicates the movie's shooting title was actually SWINGERS, a better moniker by far.
The two couples played by Jessie Andrews & Richie Calhoun plus Eric Swiss & Andy San Dimas, are haphazardly cast. Andrews, a powerful young performer, plays in this one nearly a decade too young looking for the role, looking strictly jail-bait rather than a house frau intent on swinging. Eric Swiss's major role (I've only seen him go gonzo previously) is quite confusing, since picture opens with portentous (and pretentious) black & white scenes of him at work as a cop in what appears to be a violent break-in with victimized femmes case from the past that is never resolved. Film's co-editor is the fictitious Allan Smithee, he of creative-differences-anonymity, so perhaps the 79-minute opus was mutilated along the way.
Calhoun as Andrews' hubby who owns a motorcycle shop largely walks through (and humps through) this assignment, while the lovely, always enigmatic looking San Dimas is stuck with a contradictory and underdeveloped role (per Raven Touchstone's sub-par script) as Swiss' wife. She and Andrews work together in an office run by guest star Nick Manning and film's key plot point is that Andrews and Swiss were passionate lovers years ago (belying Andrews still-looks-teenage appearance) is completely mishandled. Andrews (along with Andy) propositioning their husbands to perform what euphemistically used to be called a "wife-swap" makes no sense whatsoever given that both she and Swiss have never informed their spouses (and Andrews and San Dimas are supposedly best friends now) of their earlier 10-month relationship.
Tipoff that the project was doomed way beyond need for some urgent rewrites comes in the DVD packaging which gives the supporting performers Brandy Aniston and Lexi Belle top-billing over the main characters. As Lexi laments in the BTS bonus footage, she has no dialog, so Belle's silent stint as a paralegal humping boss Manning in the office after hours and especially Brandy's very hot bathroom f*ck with dance instructor Evan Stone (his face is barely visible during the Aniston-showcase XXX scene) dominate the film through sheer passion, throwing the drama off-kilter.
By contrast, the other two sex scenes for Jessie and Andy are dull; first one having another guest star Gracie Glam wasted as a clumsily conceived "fantasy" girl in threesome on a couch (against a backdrop of motorcycles) with Jessie and Richie after Richie rejects the real-life call girl version of her when she shows up at his showroom as an anniversary gift from Andrews. Swiss and Andy have little chemistry, and his brooding, dark performance (which has no real payoff) is a drag. Usually reliable d.p. Ralph Parfait, who's worked with PT for decades, does a poor job, with unflattering lighting of both Andy and many scenes as a whole (including the sex in the office Manning/Belle pairing).
Like so many films of late, there's a sudden "shock" ending, which I thought stunk. It comes off merely as a thumbing the nose (or finger poke in the eye) after a dreary "romantic drama" which is DOA. Even the vintage motorcycles never come into play, even as PT makes a fleeting cameo appearance as a stranded motorist filling up a can of gas at Richie's station.