Movie review XX 1/2 "Orgazmo," with Trey Parker, Dian Bachar, Robyn Lynne Raab. Directed and written by Parker. 95 minutes. Varsity, Uptown. "NC-17" - No one under 17 admitted because of explicit sexual content and dialogue.
Joseph Young, the naive Mormon-turned-porn star of Trey Parker's "Orgazmo," insists late in the film that "I'm not a superstar, I'm a Latter Day Saint."
Could he be both? That's the outrageous premise of this fitfully funny comedy, which reteams Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park," for the first time since . . . well, since last summer's surprise flop, "BASEketball."
This time, however, they're more in control (neither got script credit on "BASEketball"), and the resulting movie is less scattershot. Parker wrote the script, directed "Orgazmo" and plays the leading role, while Stone co-produced the picture and has a running-gag role as a loopy porn photographer, "Dave the lighting guy."
As an actor, Parker comes off much better this time, perhaps because he has a real role to play: the blissful innocent who allows himself to be corrupted, little by little. His evil mentor is a California porn director, Maxxx Orbison (Michael Dean Jacobs), who admires Joe's martial-arts technique but can't stand his prissiness.
"I'll make that little mama's boy the biggest porn star in the country," Maxxx announces, and indeed he does. Joe tries to convince himself that he's just an actor in his first porn film (the sex scenes are handled by others), but when Maxxx offers to double his fee for a sequel to "Orgazmo," the only porn movie to challenge "Jurassic Park" at the box office, he can't resist.
Along the way, Joe learns that porn actors are people too, while becoming best friends with Ben Chapleski (Dian Bachar), a small, skinny, bright inventor who gets his sexual kicks from playing Joe's on-screen sidekick, Choda-Boy. But Joe still has a lot of explaining to do to his Mormon girlfriend (Robyn Lynne Raab), who has been told that he's acting in a remake of "Death of a Salesman" - and then its sequel.
Parker and Bachar make a terrific team, Jacobs couldn't be more expressively horrid, while Raab matches Parker's absurd naivete, making a particularly memorable appearance in a wholesome music video that turns out to be Joe's erotic fantasy.
Still, the movie fumbles for short stretches and eventually turns repetitious. As a writer-director, Parker doesn't always match the resourcefulness of Parker the movie star.
"Orgazmo," which had its premiere more than a year ago at the Toronto Film Festival, was actually made before "BASEketball," though it had a tougher time getting a release. Parker's first movie, "Cannibal! The Musical," has been shown on cable; it will have its local theatrical premiere Oct. 30-Nov. 1 at the Varsity.
The NC-17 rating that's been slapped on "Orgazmo" is difficult to justify. "Boogie Nights," the movie it most resembles, earned an R rating. If there's a significant difference in the sleaze factor in these two pictures, it isn't readily apparent. Perhaps it's the irreverent attitude toward religion, reflected in a running dialogue gag.
"I'm from Utah," says a Mormon character.
"I'm sorry" is invariably the reply.