Orgazmo

Trey Parker, co-mastermind (with Matt Stone) of South Park and other nuclear bombs dropped onto good taste, may be a whiz at sending up mainstream entertainment, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love it at least a little. Orgazmo, which was slapped with an NC-17 rating for no very good reason other than occasional forensic dialogue about porn-film practices, follows a self-consciously cheesy heroic narrative. Joe Young (Parker himself) is a squeaky-clean Mormon who needs to make some money to pay for his upcoming marriage to the equally lily-white Lisa (Robyn Lynne). Going door-to-door to spread the good word about Jesus, he stumbles onto the making of a porn movie. The irascible director Maxxx Orbison (Michael Dean Jacobs) unleashes his bodyguards on Joe, who makes short work of them with his martial-arts skills. (Parker, the press materials inform us, has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.) Maxxx gets an idea: He’ll cast Joe as the titular hero of Orgazmo, a low-rent superhero porno (his current Orgazmo is a klutzy wimp). So Joe becomes Orgazmo, a masked avenger who zaps evildoers with his Orgazmorator, which — you guessed it — subdues his foes with debilitating petits morts.

The notion of a devoutly religious dork rising to the top of the triple-X industry is a one-joke premise, but the one joke is pretty good. In Orgazmo, Parker gets to conflate the clichés of action flicks and porno flicks, and the parody often comes close to appreciation. Parker skewers the wooden acting of porn, though most of the performances in the “straight” portion of the film, with one or two exceptions, are pretty much on the same level. Dian Bachar scores as Orgazmo’s sidekick Choda Boy, in real life an engineering geek named Ben who got into the industry for the sex. The seen-it-all Ben makes a fine foil for the perpetually horrified Joe, who more or less gets tossed into the deep end of porn filmmaking. (He’s been assured that he won’t have to perform any actual intercourse; for the money shots, several progressively mismatching “stunt cocks” are called in.) A particular scene-stealer is David Dunn as the foul A-Cup, who considers himself the ultimate bad-ass and delights in waving his own farts into people’s faces. If Dunn isn’t an alpha-male jackass in real life, he sure as hell knows how to play one.

The plot thickens when Joe’s career as Orgazmo takes off; his video sells by the ton, winning AVN awards left and right, and even appears on legit magazine covers. Meanwhile, Joe is paralyzed with fear that pure innocent Lisa may discover how Joe’s been earning that wedding money (he tells her he’s starring in a sequel to Death of a Salesman). In another plot thread, local goons are threatening the sushi bar of a Japanese hip-hop wannabe who calls himself G-Fresh (Masao Maki), and Joe outfits himself with a real, working Orgazmorator and hits the streets with Choda Boy. Throughout all this, Parker (as an actor as well as writer/director) invests Joe with a wide-eyed sincerity that the movie half goofs on and half admires. Mormons don’t come in for much bitch-slapping in Orgazmo; Parker respects people who are serious and devout about their religion (as long as it isn’t Scientology) without being judgmental assholes about it. As in all his other work, there’s a sweetness in Orgazmo that leavens the smutty stuff. The movie even manages to be anti-porn-industry (the guys who run it can be dangerous sleazeballs) without really being anti-porn. Anyone renting the movie hoping for porn, or even NC-17 arousal, is in for a disappointment: Whenever one of the porn actresses is about to disrobe, some guy’s ugly, pimply ass moves into frame to cover the female nudity. If the NC-17 rating hadn’t hurt Orgazmo‘s chances at decent distribution (it ended up being a cult video), Parker might have enjoyed the irony that a movie with nary a nipple could break through the R-rated envelope.

Orgazmo is uneven and scrappy, but that’s part of its point and its charm. Any movie that finds room for the character Sancho, who announces at every opportunity that he…is Sancho (and doesn’t do anything else), earns itself a small spot in my heart. The film also gave a legitimacy-hungry Ron Jeremy a chance to act in a flick that didn’t involve him spurting all over someone, and the script (by Parker and an uncredited Stone, who appears as the lighting guy who prefaces every statement with “I’m not queer or nothin’, but…”) has its share of Parker-esque surreal divertissements, like Choda Boy’s renunciation of his deadly Hamster Style fighting, which you know he’ll break out again at a key moment at the end.

As for the special “unrated” version found on the DVD? Even seasoned scientists studying the two versions in a lab might not find much difference between them; you certainly won’t get any lost female nudity, though you might get a few extra seconds of some guy’s hairy ass.

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