February 13th, 2014

RUNNER RUNNER (2013) **

Another movie about gambling from the writers of Rounders, starring a dude from Good Will Hunting? Can you say, “All in!” Sorry, I forgot to take my Anti-Gene Shalit pills this morning. Okay, where were we?

Justin Timberlake stars as a college student who tries to win his tuition by playing online poker. Ben Affleck is an illegal online gambling magnate who lives in Costa Rica so no one can touch him. When Timberlake gets cheated on the site, he worms his way into a meeting with Affleck. He offers JT a job working for him and he readily accepts. Of course, Affleck is just using him to pin his crimes on, and Timberlake has to stay one step ahead of him (and the Feds) to avoid going to jail.

Runner Runner is a standard issue “The Allure of Gambling Leads to Money but Also Getting Your Ass Beat” drama. Unlike films like Rounders, 21, or Casino, it doesn’t have that one sequence that shows the audience the allure. Affleck just kinda gives Timberlake a job to oversee his operations and he earns a paycheck. That’s it. The online gaming scenes don’t make it look very fun either as JT just sorta sits around fiddling on the computer. The previously mentioned films effectively showed the highs and lows of playing cards. Runner Runner doesn’t even make staying at a luxury hotel look like fun.

Timberlake looks lost and isn’t convincing when he tries to assert himself. Affleck handles the villain role the best he can, although he just sorta seems like an extension of the asshole he played in Mallrats. I did like the scene where he fed his enemies to his pet crocodiles though. And Gemma (Quantum of Solace) Arterton is pretty hot as Affleck’s squeeze (who naturally falls for Timberlake), but she seems to act more like a plot device than an actual character. Sharknado’s John Heard also turns up as Timberlake’s dad.

Bottom Line: Runner Runner is at all turns, predictable and like a bad gambler; tips its hand way too soon.

SKINAMAX-A-PALOOZA: JIM WYNORSKI DOUBLE FEATURE

HYPNOTIKA (2013) ***

Nerdy Frankie Cullen can’t get a hot chick to save his life. His friend tells him about an institute called “Hypnotika” that implants your wildest fantasies into your brain. The implants don’t take, so he has more and more fantasies put into his noggin.

Jim Wynorski is my favorite Skinamax director of all time. Hypnotika is far from his best work, but it still manages to be fairly enjoyable. The plot is pretty ho-hum for this sort of thing. And it’s lacking the goofy humor that is the hallmark of Wynorski’s best Skinamax work. Still, the sex scenes are still pretty steamy, which is what at the end of the day, really matters.

There are eleven sex scenes during the film’s 75 minute running time. That means we get a sex scene almost every seven minutes or so. There are four Guy on Girl scenes, four Guy on Girl on Girl scenes (one is technically a Guy on Girl on Girl scene since Cindy Lucas keeps morphing into Julie K. Smith), one Girl on Girl on Girl scene, one Girl on Girl on Girl on Girl on Girl scene, and one Solo Girl Shower scene. The cast is very attractive and appealing with Lucas, Smith, and Kylee Nash giving some rather sexy performances.

All in all, Hypnotika probably lacks the repeat value of something like Busty Cops Go Hawaiian, but it’s another solid late night cable offering from Wynorski.

PLEASURE SPA (2013) ***

Cindy Lucas runs Happy Endings Spa where the sexy masseuses have sex with the clients. The police department wants to close the place down, but two cops are loyal customers of the establishment. They know the place is getting shut down soon, so they aim to book as many appointments as possible.

Lesson Learned: If you don’t want your sex spa busted for prostitution, it’s probably not a good idea to call it “Happy Endings” as it’s pretty much a dead giveaway.

The cast of Jim Wynorski’s Pleasure Spa is really hot. Cindy Lucas, Heather Vandeven (whose appearances in these movies is sadly becoming more and more infrequent), and my girl Melissa Jacobs all put in some good performances and are quite sexy. Like Hypnotika, Pleasure Spa suffers from a weak scenario and a lack of (intentional) humor, but there are a couple of good scenes dispersed here and there. We get a hot scene between Frankie Cullen and Melissa Jacobs where she smooshes her boobs up against a glass door, a hot threeway between Melissa Jacobs, Cindy Lucas, and Brandin Rackley, and a funny scene where Lucas and Vandeven take their tops off while playing tennis. (They jump up and down in slow motion before getting it on with Cullen.)

There is one scene though that just makes no sense at all. The staff is having a fight when all of a sudden Cindy Lucas appears like a ghost and talks in a demon voice and forces them to get it on. What the Hell was that all about?

The film clocks in at a breezy 75 minutes. In that time, we get ten sex scenes. There are four Guy on Girl scenes, three Girl on Girl on Girl scenes, one Guy on Girl on Girl scene, one Guy on Girl on Girl on Guy scene, and one Girl on Girl on Girl on Girl on Girl on Girl Shower scene. Again, Pleasure Spa isn’t one of Wynorski’s best, but anytime you can stick a half dozen hot babes in a shower stall and make them suds each other up, it’s a good time in my book.

SKINAMAX-A-PALOOZA: CED-A-PALOOZA

CED (Cable Entertainment Distribution) is a relatively new player in the Skinamax market. Through their “New Sensations Romance” line, CED releases cut versions of XXX films directly to late night cable. Unlike most hardcore films, these films are focused more towards women and couples, so there is an abundance of (READ: Too much) plot in their movies. Today, we’ll take a look at four of their films.

EROTIC INK (2011) **

Natasha Nice stars as a children’s book author who is trying to write her first real novel. She’s obsessed with this horror novelist (Richie) and asks him for advice. While she works on her new book, her friends and colleagues get it on with various people. She falls in love with the horror author and her friends basically try to warn her away from him because he used to be in an insane asylum. Naturally, it was nothing but a PR stunt, and he’s perfectly normal and they live happily ever after.

Erotic Ink is a hardcore movie cut up for The Movie Channel’s standards. Seeing cut up sex scenes on cable is nothing new to me really. I remember when our cable system started carrying The Spice Channel back in the day. They showed cut hardcore movies all the time. Since most of them were so cheesy (like the Sex Trek movies), they were still sorta worth watching. The same can’t be said for Erotic Ink.

Since the emphasis is on romance, it’s not really a whole lot of fun. To make matters worse, all of the onscreen pairings are Guy on Girl, so there’s very little variety to the sex scenes. In the course of 77 minutes there are only 4 sex scenes, which means there is a sex scene every 19 minutes; and that’s a pretty awful average.

But the sex scenes themselves aren’t that bad. The naughty bits are cropped just out of camera view, but at least you can tell they’re actually doing it, unlike most Skinamax movies. And there is one scene in particular featuring Kimberly Kane that is pretty good because she’s very verbal and really into it. Maybe with the hardcore shots intact, it might’ve been worth it, but as is, Erotic Ink is pretty middle of the road.

KINKY IN THE KITCHEN (2011) * ½

Samantha Ryan is a hot caterer whose professional life is looking up. However, her personal life is a different story. Of course, Samantha’s co-worker (Richie) is in love with her, but she doesn’t see it. Once he shows interest in another chick, she finally realizes what she’s been missing.

Kinky in the Kitchen is a predictable, by-the-numbers Skinamax flick. I mean there’s a scene in the beginning of the film where Ryan tells Richie that she fantasizes about a man coming up behind her and making love to her. How much you want to bet he’ll be that guy by the end of the flick?

I know it’s kinda beside the point to criticize a Skinamax flick for its plot (especially one that’s nothing more than a hacked-up porno to begin with), but there you go. The romantic aspect of the film isn’t very romantic, and the sex scenes are rather tepid. Since the angle again is “romance”, there is a lot of kissing and groping and not a whole lot of bumping and grinding.

During the film’s mercifully brief 69 minute running time, we get four sex scenes. All of them are of the Guy on Girl variety. That is to say, there is no variety. And when the sex scenes happen at 17 minutes intervals (on average), it’s hard to get all worked up by them.

I will say that the cast is attractive. Samantha Ryan is pretty hot, Allie (the Emmanuelle Through Time series) Haze is sexy, and Raven (Pleasure Spa) Alexis was looking good too. Maybe if I caught the film in its uncensored version I might’ve felt different. But judged solely on this iteration, Kinky in the Kitchen isn’t worth putting on the menu.

Missy Martinez gets the best line of the movie when she says: “I know there are some things you don’t want to eat first, but your wife shouldn’t be one of them!”

AKA: Recipe for Romance.

LUST ON THE PRAIRIE (2011) **

Tommy (Michael Vegas) is a country singer who wants to take a break from performing. His sexy manager (India Summer) convinces him to go back on the road. While he’s out on the highway, his truck breaks down and he winds up on a farm where a hot chick named Emma (Brooklyn Lee) works. Naturally, they fall in love and Tommy has to decide between his career and the girl of his dreams.

Lust on the Prairie was written and directed by porn star Stormy Daniels. It’s not terrible or anything and it moves at an acceptable pace. The presence of the always-sexy India (the Emmanuelle Through Time series) Summer and hottie Gracie Glam certainly helps.

Basically, Lust on the Prairie has the same exact plot of George Strait’s Pure County. Except, you know, with edited-for-cable sex scenes. Speaking of Strait, I did get a laugh out of the references to the other country stars Tommy was competing against at the country awards show. They just have mix-and-match names like “George Black” and “Tracy Swift”.

During the film’s 75 minute running time, there are five Guy on Girl scenes. That means we get a sex scene every 15 minutes, which is certainly better than the last two movies I watched. One of the scenes is a literal roll in the hay that is interrupted when Vegas tells Lee “you deserve better than a barn”!

AKA: Heart Strings.

SEX PETS (2011) * ½

This sensitive guy is always complaining about how women don’t want romance. When he meets Allie Haze, it’s love at first sight, but he’s too shy to approach her. She loses her dog and he finds it, but instead of returning it right away, he keeps it at his place. He then helps Allie look for her dog, all the while trying to put the moves on her.

So basically what we have here is a softcore (formerly hardcore before The Movie Channel censors got a hold of it) version of that David Spade movie, Lost and Found. (In fact, that was the film’s original hardcore title too.) The Hollywood version of Lost and Found was bad enough. Did we really need a serious softcore version of it? I might’ve felt different if I saw the XXX footage as originally intended, but this version is the pits.

The girls in the cast are very hot though. Allie Haze and Lexi Belle were looking fine and Zoe Voss put in an energetic performance. The hottest one in the cast though is Kimberly Kane. As with Erotic Ink, she is very verbal during her sex scene, which adds to her appeal.

Sadly, the sex scenes seemingly go on forever and aren’t exactly what I would call hot. And the “plot” scenes seemingly go on even longer and are deadly dull. During the film’s inflated 92 minute running time there are only four ho-hum Guy on Girl scenes. That means they only occur every 23 minutes, which is thoroughly unacceptable in the realm of Skinamax and I’m sure is frowned upon in the hardcore world too.

AKA: Lost and Found.