“The windows around here are not big enough for you?”
Writer/Director Keith Bearden’s debut film, Meet Monica Velour, seduces you like raunchy 70s porn star, but finishes you off with a happy ending like a cheap masseuse in a roadside massage parlor. Not that this is a sex comedy, nor are the stars particularly sexy (except for Jamie Tisdale who plays young Monica Velour who is very, very hot), but the theme is about sexual illusions. Illusions from a time long past, when pornos tried to be movies instead of a series of masturbation loops and there was an ironic air of innocence to the whole smutty affair.
Tobe (a gawky Dustin Ingram channeling Napoleon Dynamite) sets off on a road trip to sell his inherited hotdog vender van, the “Wiener Wiz” and meet his young life’s greatest obsession, Monica Velour (an almost unrecognizable Kim Cattrall), an elusive porn star whose career peaked in the eighties. Velour is making a rare appearance at a seedy strip club in the backwash of Indiana. As only a virgin who has jacked-off countless times to her movies could, Tobe sets off to seduce and bed her, hoping she finds something sexy in his obsessive fanboy nature. When an old, washed up and burned out Velour steps out on stage, well, as the poster tagline says, “Fantasy meets Reality.” However, Tobe’s love for Monica Velour’s image transcends the trailer park reality and he embeds himself in her life for a few days until the illusion is finally shattered.
Kim Cattrall’s performance is electrifying. She gained 20 pounds for the role, never put on makeup and left her hair as it was when she got out of bed each day. Even though she basically is playing the whore with a heart of gold, she somehow steers clear of that cliché in her delivery. She channels Gena Rowlands in her steely, world weariness. This is easily her best film (although I do love me some Big Trouble in Little China) and I understand she rallied for it to be made. Ironically, the garishness she displayed in Sex in the City, which I found a bit grating, is nowhere to be seen here. I only wish the script gave her more to do. Like a classic tease, her character promises things that never quite pay off. They needed to take her over the top like in The Wrestler and let the chips fall where they may.
Dustin Ingram is a bit one note, but at least it is a mostly sweet note. He dangerously veers into Jon Heder territory and has a tendency to overact some scenes, but I could totally relate to a kid who purchases an eighties porn video tape alongside a vintage copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go. Cranky, old Brian Dennehy chewed the scenery in every scene as cranky, old Pop Pop, Keith David dispensed baritone proverbs of wisdom as Claude the collector, Jee Young Han made fat and geeky almost look sexy as girl next door Amanda and Daniel Yelsky grounded the proceedings as the young neighbor boy wise beyond his years.
The title sequence of the film is one of the highlights, unfortunately setting the bar higher than the movie itself ever attains. The sequence graphically traces Monica Velour’s filmography with mocked up, incredibly authentic looking posters sporting names like, Hooked on Hookers, New Wave Nookie, M*U*F*F, and Pork ‘N Mindy. I particularly loved the clips from Velour’s goofy porns. Jamie Tisdale nailed the young Velour, playing her as a Annie Sprinkle/Ginger Lynn type star from the golden age of porn. The Star Wars (Star Whores) porn parody where they were shooting “cocktroopers” with their blasters got a laugh out of me. I understand the filmmakers had trouble finding people to play the part of the cocktroopers because they didn’t want to be seen on film in those costumes. That had to be the first time someone had trouble being a dick in Hollywood.
Anchor Bay’s 1080p, 1.78:1-framed, MPEG-4 AVC encoded, BD-50 Blu-ray release of Meet Monica Velour runs at an average of 27Mbps. The colors are warm and the transfer clean. Some of the interior night shots are a bit flat, but overall the colors are rich and finely detailed. Blacks are fairly stable and layered, skin tones natural. Some of the Indiana countryside scenes are absolutely gorgeous. This is a very decent video presentation.
The English Dolby True-HD 5.1 mix is clean and delivers nicely. There isn’t much immersive surround or LFE bass response, but it is a quiet movie. The music and ambience never overpower the dialog, which is sharp and clearly captured. I loved the 1930s music soundtrack, it supoorted the themes and added depth to a relatively simple narrative.
Audio Commentary: Writer/Director Keith Bearden and Actress Kim Cattrall connect wonderfully and provide a lively, honest and very funny commentary. Evidently Brian Dennehy is just like every character he plays now, a cranky old fart. Bearden and he didn’t get along and this led to a frosty relationship on set. Anecdotal insights to budget constraints, recreating the porn scenes, technical issues and performances are all interesting and engaging. This is a superior commentary, in some ways more rewarding than the movie itself and well worth checking out.
Deleted Scenes (480p, 7:53): Monica and Tobe, Caveman Opening, Tobe’s Dream, and Tobe and Pop Pop.
Meet Monica Velour Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:22).
This is one of those life-sure-can-be-quirky dramedies, in the tradition of Juno, Napoleon Dynamite and Garden State. It isn’t quite funny enough to make you laugh a lot or dramatic enough to shed a tear, but it is sweet natured and endearing. The “Weenie Wiz” truck used in the film was stolen shortly after the movie wrapped and hasn’t been seen since. Kind of like that truck, the movie is tacky and somehow alluring, but will be robbed from your memory shortly after you watch it.
“I hate to be the one to say this to you, but you may not be big enough to go on this ride.”