20 April 2019 | lor_
Wonderful ending, but many bungled scenes en route
Elephantiasis helps ruin Brad Armstrong's "Starmaker", one of his self-proclaimed "blockbusters" for Wicked Pictures that would have been far better an obvious cast change and more concise B-movie approach.
This falls into a presumptuous porn genre where X-rated filmmakers pretend they are working in the mainstream, creating sort of a parallel world movie. Brad takes the male lead as a big-time producer married to sullen, overly imbibing Jessica Drake, who plays it cool in the background for much of the way-overlong (3 hours and 39 minutes) show, only to prove crucial to the story and denouement in later reels.
He is blackmailed by sleazeball wannabe screenwriter Tommy Pistol and his actress wannabe girlfriend Asa Akira. They don't want Brad's money, but rather jobs working for him, an extremely flimsy premise that hurts the movie's credibility early on, a "suspension of disbelief" issue that I never could overcome.
But making the long slog (in for a penny, in for a pound) to the wonderful ending was rewarding in the saver saved for the final reel.
An extremely cynical view of Hollywood moviemaking, mainstream not Adult, is at the core of Brad's script here, and becomes filled with cliches early on. The concept of the casting couch is emphasized, and the vehicle for our duo's blackmail scheme: taping Brad doing the Weinstein routine with Asa.
Before the identity of the Starmaker is revealed, and the satisfying plot twists that finish the show play out, the entire edifice is ruined by casting Pistol in the major role of conniver/schemer. He is so blatantly unpleasant and transparently creepy that even Drake's character, after meeting him for no more than a minute at a Hollywood party she hosts and he crashes, sizes him up completely. For the picture to work and the viewer to be fully engaged in the story and characters, the Pistol role of Jeremy had to go to an actor with appeal, so that his evil intent and unwholesomeness could develop and be interesting. But no, Brad goes to creepy Pistol to play a creep - a mistake that sunk so many Adult features in recent years.
Asa is appealing, but made to seem airheaded in order to keep the pot boiling: for example, her falling so easily under Pistol's sway is not credible, especially since the viewer sees through him as fast as Drake does. But her working hand in glove with him is a necessary cog in Brad's screenplay.
In his need to expand a compact story into epic proportions (nine big sex scenes rather than the four or five a porn audience deserves nowadays) Brad throws in lengthy extraneous sex scenes, including big-bust lady Courtney Taylor plus Amia Miley as extras who Pistol promises featured roles and gets a threesome out of the deal in Asa's trailer on set. Similarly, a big sex scene of Pistol with Brad's goth daughter Jeanie Marie Sullivan is preposterous, just there to justify later twists.
So if you're willing to swallow literally a whale of a tale in order to get to the fun conclusion, binge on this overstuffed DVD. Second disk in the "deluxe" package has an utterly pointless Table Read by the four principal players running over 90 minutes long -even a glutton for punishment like me couldn't make it through that bit of vanity.