1 item from 2001
Just for the record, in adult entertainment industry parlance a fluffer is somebody who helps a male porn star find, uh, motivation for a scene.
Enter "The Fluffer", essentially a gay "Boogie Nights" by way of "Midnight Cowboy" and "Letter From an Unknown Woman" that initially packs some potent wit before going all soft and melodramatic.
The rather abrupt, clunky tonal shift is doubly disappointing, because the film, directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash West, with a script by West, boasts a bright cast of familiar and fresh faces in addition to all that crisp, dry satire.
Despite not being all that it could be, the provocative title and setting (though most of the risque business is conducted discreetly just out of frame) should ensure that the picture generates some sturdy niche business.
New to Los Angeles and looking for work, boyish, naive Sean (Michael Cunio) spends lonely nights renting classic Hollywood movies and gets more than he bargains for when what was thought to be "Citizen Kane" turns out to be a gay porn version starring hypermasculine Johnny Rebel (Scott Gurney).
Immediately smitten with the bad boy icon, Sean applies for work as a cameraman at the Men of Janus production company, where Johnny does his thing, and quickly finds himself doing double duty as his idol's fluffer of choice.
While Sean was hoping for something a little more meaningful, it turns out that Johnny, aka Mikey, is only "gay for pay" and prefers spending his off-work hours with his stripper girlfriend Babylon, aka Julie (Roxanne Day), when not bingeing with other females.
But Sean quietly holds out hope at the expense of his personal relationships, and when Johnny's life hits a downward spiral, he helps him hide out in Mexico -- and this is where "Fluffer" fluffs it.
Obviously West, a successful adult filmmaker, and Glatzer (whose series credits include "Divorce Court" and MTV's "Road Rules") have a lot of worthy things they want to say about sexuality and emotional contact, but they don't know how to integrate them into the film without disrupting the buoyant flow and pace.
Instead, they've more or less split the production right down the middle, and it's the spirited first half, with its sharply observed industry asides, that works best, especially for the game cast that also includes Robert Walden, Taylor Negron, Richard Riehle, Deborah Harry and Adina Porter.
Like one of its inspirations, the production could have used more Boogie and fewer murky Nights.
First Run Features/TLA Releasing
Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash West
Producers: John Sylla, Victoria Robinson
Screenwriter: Wash West
Executive producer: Rose Kuo
Director of photography: Mark Putnam
Production designer: Devorah Herbert
Editor: John Binninger
Costume designer: Gitte Meldgaard
Music: The Bowling Green, John Vaughn
Casting: Elizabeth Jereski
Johnny Rebel/Mikey: Scott Gurney
Babylon: Roxanne Day
Sean McGinnis: Michael Cunio
Marcella: Deborah Harry
Chad Cox: Robert Walden
Tony Brooks: Taylor Negron
Sam Martins: Richard Riehle
Alan Dieser: Tim Bagley
Silver: Adina Porter
Running time -- 94 minutes
MPAA rating: R
1 item from 2001
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