The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington

The Happy Hooker Goes to WashingtonSynopsis: Based on the best-selling book which had sold millions of copies by the time the film was made, The Happy Hooker tells the funny and feisty tale of Xaviera Hollander – a girl on the verge of discovering her sexuality, her financial freedom, and the lusty, lucrative connection between the two.

Joey Heatherton, George Hamilton and Ray Walston star in this sexy sequel which follows the now-successful madam as she testifies before Congress and relies on her “special” talents on a “special” mission for the CIA!

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The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington 3.5

eyelights: its basic premise.
eyesores: the performances. the script. the dialogues. its pathetic attempts at humour.

Wow… what is there to say about ‘The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington’? I know very little about Xaviera Hollander’s life, but from what I can tell this is not based on her experiences, like ‘The Happy Hooker‘ was; it appears to be a fantasy based on the Deep Throat senatorial commissions, but revolving around prostitution, and with Hollander as the central figure.

There’s not much a of a story here: a sex scandal plaguing the U.S. Senate finds its key witness, a call-girl, missing. Xaviera, a friend of the girl, ends up called before the senatorial commission that is considering putting extreme limitations on sexual expression in the United States – a sort of prohibition of sex in many forms that would have massive repercussions.

Most of the film takes place in front of the commission, but it’s padded with flashbacks of Xaviera’s various stories and recollections – after a short introduction to our protagonist, which involves watching her give advice for her column and assist a photographer with his sexy shoot. We get the gist that Hollander is now a media mogul of sorts, purveyor of sex in many forms.

I like the idea of a confrontation between Xaviera and a Senate committee, because it echoes some of the most important battles with the forces of censorship and oppression that have been waged in North America in the last century. And, on top of that, with a figurehead such as Xaviera, there are plenty of opportunities to make a point and to do it in a fresh and humourous fashion.

In fact, as I was watching the first half hour, I was wondering why I had hated it so much back in the day. I couldn’t fathom why I had given it a 3.5, when now the worst I would have given it was a 6.0. But good sense prevailed and ‘The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington’ quickly reconfirmed why it deserved it the first time around: it has a poorly developed plot, terrible dialogues, unbearably unfunny “humour”, and incompetent performances.

I wish I knew why this Xaviera adventure features an entirely different cast and crew, but I have no doubt that Lady Fortune was watching out for them; there’s no doubt that making this turd would have been career suicide, if the first “The Happy Hooker’ wasn’t already. One could argue that a great cast can elevate a poor production, but I contend that there’s no way that anyone could have made gold out of the stinking pile of crap that is ‘THHGTW’s script.

And yet, despite the film’s poor prospects, there are nonetheless a few familiar faces peppering this film, including Billy Barty, Rip Taylor, and Ray Walston. Only Sydney Lassick comes out of this unscathed, though, playing pretty much the same character as he did in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’: a neurotic crybaby who loses his composure when under pressure. Granted, this particular character isn’t a patient in a sanitarium, but, aside from that context, he comes off virtually the same. Lack of range or typecasting? Who cares! He was the highlight for me.

George Hamilton also shows up as Hollander’s attorney. I’ve only seen him in “Love at First Bite‘ but I know of his reputation as a perma-tanned pretty boy. Honestly, I have no idea how much credibility he has as an actor, but in ‘THHGTW’ he is horrid. With all due respect to the man, even in his best moments his delivery isn’t even of television caliber. And his comic timing? Incalculable. His is one of the worst comic performances that I’ve seen in recent years. Horrid.

It’s hard to imagine, but he is topped (or is that bottomed?) by Jerry Fischer, in the part of Sheik Ali, whom Xaviera is commissioned to seduce by the President of the United States (don’t ask!). This man, who not even remotely looks Arab aside for his garb and unconvincing skin tone, must have been hired for his vague resemblance to Peter Sellers – because it surely wasn’t for his talent. Except that, even in his most exuberant moments Sellers was never this out of control. Or incapable.

For good or bad, Lynn Redgrave didn’t return for a second crack at Xaviera Hollander. I have mixed feelings about it: on the one hand, Redgrave inappropriately played her as a macho drag queen, but, on the other, Joey Heatherton gives us a Tara Reid-like Xaviera by way of Joyce DeWitt. Oh, sure, there were moments when she had the presence of Susan Sarandon, but those were rare instances. Mostly, she hammed it up annoyingly.

I don’t really understand why the filmmakers decided to mix sex and comedy the way that they did, but they kind of cancelled each other out. Well, okay, the gawdawful humour cancelled out the film’s potential sexiness; how can you get in the spirit of things when you have ill-conceived slapstick getting in the way? Not that ‘THHGTW’ would have been sexy, necessarily: for all the boobies on display, it didn’t present any in the right light. Same goes for the boobs, for that matter.

If anything, ‘The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington’ comes off as a failed late night softcore porn movie: it doesn’t show enough sensuality or sex to stimulate one’s hormones, but it also isn’t clever enough to stimulate one’s intellect either. So it falls right in the middle, in a place that no one would want to be. If the humourous moments had at least been somewhat amusing or clever, then it might have passed, but it fails so miserably at comedy that there’s nothing left to recommend it.

Story: 4.0
Acting: 2.5
Production: 5.0

Sexiness: 2.5
Nudity: 4.0
Explicitness: 2.0

Date of viewing: August 17, 2013

One response to “The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington

  1. Pingback: The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood | thecriticaleye·

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