This is one of the very few movies that I included in my 100 Essential Superhero Movies that I hadn’t seen before, but enough people voted for it in the poll that I included it sight unseen. It came from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creative types behind the juggernaut that is South Park which I was a fan of. I say was not because I no longer like it, but I just haven’t watched it in years. So with the recommendation of my readers and my enjoyment of South Park I went in expecting to really enjoy this movie. Unfortunately, most of the comedy did not make me laugh at all, and when you take the humor away from this movie, there’s not a whole lot left to grasp onto. Not to mention that it’s a somewhat of a movie about the porn industry without any female nudity aside from the occasional sideboob though I suppose that’s supposed to be part of the joke and I knew about that wrinkle going into the movie as well. And underlying the plot line about this clean cut Mormon entering into the seedy porn underworld is the side story about him actually becoming this crimefighter Orgazmo. It just never added up for me.
The funny thing is that this movie started out on a high note when it showed an establishing shot of Hollywood using the Hollywood sign which it then undercut with the text labeling it “Hollywood” which ended up being my favorite joke in the whole movie unfortunately. It then follows a couple Mormons, one played by Trey Parker who get accosted in various ways as they go door to door before winding up at the home of porn producer/director Maxx Orbison who is in the middle of filming what would now be referred to as a porn parody of a superhero film. What follows is essentially Parker’s descent into the seedy world of porn while still trying to cling onto his squeaky clean Mormon ideals and fiancee back in Utah. Meanwhile, he becomes friends with his on-set sidekick Choda Boy aka Ben who is also a PhD and accomplished inventor and martial artist. There’s also his favorite sushi restaurant run by an awkwardly jive-talking Asian calling himself G-Fresh which is getting muscled out by the dance club next door as an obvious hook to be followed up by the two porn superheroes. It’s no surprise to find out that Orbison is ultimately behind it all as Parker feels more and more trapped with his choice to do porn in the first place.
This movie feels like it’s caught between a few different ideas. It’s a parody of the porn industry, with the requisite bad acting when they’re reciting lines for the porn movie within the movie, the bubble-headed female porn stars and the brainless, testosterone fueled male porn stars, and Ron Jeremy. It’s a little surprising that there wasn’t any mentions of drug use alongside all the other stereotypes. But aside from the porn industry jokes, there’s also a superhero parody strung along with it, as Ben is also an accomplished inventor and creates the fake gadgets used in the porn movie for real at his home, including the Orgazmotron which is an arm-mounted laser which causes the victim to experience an immediate and powerful orgasm. And of course, both Ben and Parker are accomplished martial artists, though Ben hints early on in their relationship that he gave up his hamster style long ago in a most obvious set up ever.
One of my biggest problems with this movie is that most of the jokes come with an extremely obvious set up, like the hamster style joke, or the fact that Parker thinks that no one will see this Orgazmo movie and yet it becomes a crossover hit and becomes the third highest grossing film of all time next to Star Wars and E.T. which was something that is so far outside of the realm of possibility that it made me annoyed instead of making me laugh, especially since it wasn’t done in service of the comedy, but because it needed to happen to further the rest of the plot. The entire G-Fresh side story also bothered me because the majority of the joke was based around an Asian man badly adopting hip-hop culture while also creating another obvious set up as a catalyst for Parker to become his porn superhero in real life. There was also the completely unnecessary scene with the extremely obese porn star wearing practically nothing whose voice was dubbed over by Parker or Stone doing one of their South Park mocking voices. It wasn’t “hilariously outrageous” as it seemed to be intended, it was just mean-spirited. It also annoyed me that any time a porn scene would start, it would cue the overly generic porn music that was exactly the same music in every single cue. The one high point for me was Matt Stone who played Dave the Lighting Guy with a weird fro/mullet, a clueless expression plastered on his face, and unending optimism. But that character was also marred by a repeated and borderline mean-spirited joke of “I don’t want to sound queer but…” followed by statements that become more and more homosexual in nature.
I feel like I’m often one who champions these low budget, campy superhero movies that have some obvious flaws, but are charming in their own ways, and this movie definitely fits that criteria. It also comes from filmmakers whose work I have enjoyed in the past with the early seasons of South Park, including the movie and Team America: World Police. And I can understand that many people have and will find the charm and humor in this movie, but it just didn’t work for me. I laughed in a couple places, I smiled in others, another favorite line of mine is when Parker is having an argument with his Mormon fiancee and as she’s leaving he yells “Don’t quote Dickens in my house!” I’m not about to go and remove this film from my 100 Essential Superhero Movies list, but I will admit that it just wasn’t for me. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
*poster art from a stage musical production of Orgazmo at Theater Jugend in Buffalo, NY.