Joe Young (Trey Parker) is a devout Mormon visiting Hollywood to convert the unenlightened. While spreading the word, Joe is offered $20,000 to play Captain Orgazmo in a porn director’s film. Mindful of the financial burdens of his upcoming wedding, Joe reluctantly accepts the role, not certain of what he’s in for! Written, directed and starring SOUTH PARK co-creator Trey Parker and featuring his SOUTH PARK partner Matt Stone, this hilarious send-up of the porn industry will have you laughing long after the credits role.
eyelights: Trey Parker. Matt Stone. the basic concept. the context.
eyesores: the formulaic nature of the plot. the lackluster performances.
“I’m not a superhero! I’m a Latter-Day Saint.”
Before ‘The Book of Mormon’ took North America by storm, there was ‘Orgazmo’.
‘Orgazmo’ is a Trey Parker film about Joseph Young, a Mormon missionary who gets sucked into the porn industry when he is offered the lead role in an adult superhero spoof called Orgazmo. Eager to marry his fiancé in the Utah temple, an expensive proposition, he decides that the small fortune offered to him is nothing more than a means to an end – so long as he doesn’t partake in any of the on-screen sexual hijinks.
And thus begins his troubles – with the film’s director, the local mob enforcers and, naturally, his girlfriend.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about this picture. On the one hand, I love the concept and I enjoy that Parker poked fun at the industry and religious sexual mores in his own peculiar way, but I’ve always felt that some of it was facile and perhaps too uninspired and/or moronic to truly hit its mark. Combined with a formulaic third act, it lacked the spark that would have made it a formidable comedy.
It’s got its fair share of deliriously hilarious moments (ex: the reactions that Young, played by Parker himself, gets when he goes door-to-door to talk to people about his church), admittedly, but it’s counterbalanced with pretty lame gags (ex: Choda Boy’s dildo helmet) and jokes that are stretched well beyond the point of amusement (ex: G-Fresh, the Japanese gangsta – an awesome idea that got too much exposure).
Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I understood all the little references in the picture. I’m sure that Parker inserted porn-related references that were over my head, in the same way that he threw in pop culture ones (ex: nods to superhero comics, spoof video titles like ‘Jesus Scissorhands’). So it’s quite possible that some people catch enough of them to enjoy ‘Orgazmo’ fully – assuming the execution isn’t the problem here.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the cast is mediocre, over-emoting at each turn (although casting Ron Jeremy gives the picture porn cred, it’s pretty indicative of the cast’s quality). Trey Parker is terrific as Joseph Young/Orgazmo, impressing me with his martial arts ability, and Matt Stone was hilariously one-note as the moronic onset cameraman who stares mouth agape at everything that takes place, but the rest were pretty bad.
The picture has budget issues, mind you, potentially excusing the cast. Just as with ‘Cannibal: The Musical!’, Parker’s previous film, ‘Orgazmo’ was intended to be a musical, but they had such a hard time landing the financing due to it subject matter that he had to eject that notion and make it a straight film. This is quite evident from the limited locations, sets and camera angles – not that this is uncommon for indies anyway.
Had the material been more clever or original, I think that it would have transcended its budgetary limitations. Honestly, with Parker at the centre, and firmly supported by Stone and Dian Bachar as Choda Boy, it had the making of something pretty good (case-in-point, the woefully underappreciated ‘Baseketball’, in which the three costar); the trio have an excellent rapport that should have much more mileage.
Ultimately, however, ‘Orgazmo’ tries to be provocative and funny at once, to push the boundaries of what audiences might be used to in comedy, but misses its mark on many levels. If anything, it manages to elicit groans and some gasps, but nothing more than that. It doesn’t even compensate for its impotence by serving up some T&A, like so many other movies of its ilk do – in fact, it purposely doesn’t, turning this into a recurring gag.
To be honest, I find that notion commendable. But I wonder if that was intentional or a question of budgetary limitations. And that’s part of the picture’s problem: its intentions are so murky that it’s hard to enjoy. Is it a spoof? Is it shock comedy? Is it exploitation? Who the heck knows, and I wonder if even Parker knows. If anything, ‘Orgazmo’ feels like a “should have been” that wasn’t – hence why it feels so disappointing each time.
In the end, we’re forced to look elsewhere for good satire of the porn industry, such as with ‘Boogie Nights’, ‘Elektra Luxx‘, ‘Finding Bliss‘ or even ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno‘. ‘Orgazmo’ is a half-hearted attempt that is more sophomoric than witty and hardly the most thought-provoking spoof, making it a poor substitute for the real thing. For that reason alone, it’s hard to delve right in without reserve.
Now “bring me my stunt cock.”
(Snicker, snicker… I just had to.)
Dates of viewing: July 28-29, 2014