Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review | "Elektra Luxx"

If the goal of the filmmakers behind Elektra Luxx was to make the least funny movie they possibly could, then they succeeded admirably. Unfortunately, I don't think that was their intention, despite the fact that Elektra Luxx is quite possibly the most painfully unfunny piece of cinematic swill that I have seen in a long time.

The result is surprising given the mostly capable cast, that includes Carla Gugino, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kathleen Quinlan, and Malin Ackerman. But something, somewhere, went horribly awry, and not even actors I generally like could save it.

Gugino stars in the title role as Elektra Luxx, a former porn mega star who is retiring from the business because she is (surprise!) pregnant. Now instead of porn, she is teaching a self help classed called "How to Have Sex Like a Porn Star" to repressed housewives and girlfriends.


Everything changes, however, when a young woman approaches Elektra with a proposition. Guilt-ridden over cheating on her boyfriend, she hires Elektra to seduce her boyfriend so she can catch them in the act, confess her transgressions, and clear her conscience. Elektra reluctantly agrees, only to set off a chain of events that will change her life forever.

In addition to Elektra's story, the film examines how Elektra's retirement affects everyone else, from sex bloggers (an amusing Joseph Gordon-Levitt, doubtless the film's bright spot) to fellow porn stars. It aims a satirical eye at the porn industry, but the satire is so limp and bloodless that it never really takes off. The same could be said for the film as a whole, which is a scattershot mess of a comedy with no real aim or cohesion. It darts off random tangents with seemingly no rhyme or reason, and in one of the most bizarre celebrity cameos of the year, features Julianne Moore as the Virgin Mary (don't ask).

I kept waiting for it all to come together, for something funny to happen, for it all to just make sense. But it never does. It even tries to take a serious turn in the final act, taking Elektra's transition from porn star to mother and trying to make it moving and emotional, but the tonal shift is so abrupt and the emotionalism so unearned that the effect is completely jarring. In fact that's one of Elektra Luxx's greatest problems - like the character at its core, it simply doesn't know what it wants to be. As a film, it is too schizophrenic, too frenetic, too desperate for laughs that it comes off shallow and limp. Poor writing and lackluster performances betray an overall sense of apathy and disorganization, leading to a film that is completely dead on arrival.

People often say that drama is easy, comedy is hard. Elektra Luxx fails miserably at both. It just doesn't work on any conceivable level. Granted, I never saw Women in Trouble, the 2009 film it follows, but I can't imagine how knowledge of that film could possibly improve this one. It's an awful, incomprehensible mess that neither titillates or amuses. And for a comedy about porn, that's a fatal combination.

GRADE - ½ star (out of four)

ELEKTRA LUXX | Directed by Sebastian Gutierrez | Stars Carla Gugino, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Kathleen Quinlan, Malin Akerman, Marley Shelton, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chiriqui, Vincent Kartheiser, Justin Kirk | Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and language | Opens tomorrow, March 11, in select cities.

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