| The Red Right Hand
Tim Blake Nelson
It's odd how a cast of this calibre could find itself doing a film about a small-town American community making a pornographic movie but I think it's that very aspect that makes The Moguls the triumph that I believe it to be. Before I continue with the story I would just like to warn you that most of the characters will not have the actor's names in the parenthesis - as is the norm. with my reviews - as this movie has far too many cameos to mention, almost every single actor/actress is a comedian or TV star of sorts, the list just trails, so I'll simply advise you see the film and take note of them all.
Andy Sargentee is recently divorced, in the process he lost his son and just about everything else. Yet he is still a proud, determined American citizen who believes in his country's dream; that any man can make himself something out of nothing - or whatever it is exactly, it evolves too much for me to try and be political correct. Having visited his son, intimidated by the sheer size of his new house and how successful his wife's new partner is, Andy has found himself in his usual bar, sitting, thinking. As the narrator (Sargentee himself) explains, he has these episodes of thought often; an expression of mid-life crisis. Through Andy's eyes we are introduced to his friends and told that following these thinking sessions, they all rally to support him - it would be easier to simply list them:
- Some Idiot [Pantoliano], an eccentric, balding, bespectacaled man who attends random night courses
- Otis [Fitchner], the blunt, foul-mouthed deadbeat
- Moose [Danson], the gay member of the group but tries desperately to hide it (even though everyone is aware)
- Barney [Nelson], Andy's best friend, madly in love with Helen
- Helen [Headly], a woman who's fallen for the wrong guy too often but still hangs around the bar for the supposed Mr. Right
- Moe & Ron (affectionately dubbed Mo/Ron as they're never apart) [Hawkes / Henke]
- Floyd [Bower], the barkeep
- Two older ladies (they don't play for much)
*I promise I will only introduce one more character - I know this layout doesn't make for an easy read, my apologies*
As Andy begins looking through the paper, his gaze darts about the bar, highlighting words like 'Sandy & Dicks,' 'Bobs,' 'Company Sects,' all-of-a-sudden it hits him. He leaps from his chair, almost turning over the table, and with a wild-eyed stare through his long stringy hair he shouts, "We're going to make a porno!" Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? A group of 40-50 year old actors just deciding to ease their way into the pornography industry. Don't worry, bare with me for just a second. After receiving the proper funding the town get to work on the planning. The new addition to the gang is Emmett [Patrick Fugit] who works in the video store across the road from Floyd's bar. Andy introduces him as the kid who knows everything about films and movies, having seen them all - I felt an affinity for this character, sort of reminded me of myself - from the moment he is brought on in pre-production Emmett begins filming everything with his digital camera (anyone who knows me will understand this). The main problem the crew face is women. It's an interesting thing to tackle; how do you approach a lady and ask her if she would like to star in a pornographic film without getting slapped? (This is something men have been trying in various forms for the last century and if there was an easy answer the film industry would look considerably different... probably less clothes) The roles are played out exceptionally (even Bridges as Andy, even though he's basically playing a more down-toned, shaved version of 'The Dude' from The Big Lebowski - don't get me wrong, that's a good thing, Lebowski is genius, end of story) by the various stars, not to mention Lauren Graham and Isaiah Washington's brief parts; including a scene in a diner between Andy and Homer [Washington] about how not all black men have large penises - the result is a stressed Andy eating and screaming, 'Improper Porno Penis!' an empty diner, implications of (falsified) racial hatred and Homer spattered with cream.
The film rolls on smoothly for about an hour and a half with various twists presenting themselves but this is more of a group character study, a portrayal of friends bonding and how working toward something with those you care about (no matter what it is) can usually give you the most satisfaction and lasting memories. For a film about pornography, I have to say it's all in jest, other than video boxes, rude words and Ted Danson's shrivelled arse there's very little nudity or sex - you'll understand why at the end of the film - which is why I feel this is more than just your average smutty comedy. In my opinion it works on a similar level to British comedy, poking fun at oneself and the situations we find ourselves in (a few good examples would be The Full Monty, Calendar Girls & Bridget Jones' Diary - even if I do think it's appalling nonsense). If you can get past the lewd expressions and the film's direct approach to sex, then you are in for a delightful celebration of friendship and the absurdity of pornography.
21st July 2006
The Scene To Look Out For:
In an attempt to prove that he's not a homosexual, Moose volunteers to be the male-lead for the film. After an hour of trying he emerges in a small baby-blue dressing gown, almost in tears, confessing his sexual nature. As everyone knows nobody seems to care, they just want their friend to feel comfortable. It's so ludicrous but plays out beautifully, illustrating the heart of the humour that keeps this comedy ablaze.
The almost obsessive 'Some Idiot.' From his outrageous, un-filmable screenplay to his innocent (sometimes selfish) candour, Pantoliano manages to create a rich addition to the already hysterical ensemble.
"Boris gives it to Bianca in the butt as she defuses the bomb - It's kinda irresponsible of them! So many people die if the bomb goes off! Some!? We don't know what we're doing!"
In A Few Words:
The American version of Calendar Girls; boorish brow-raising brilliance