Romantic comedy requires a delicate balance between the indelibly strong interpersonal chemistry of its enamored leads and a frothy playfulness that's lighter than air. Such recipe rarely mixes well with the requirements of hardcore porn which foregrounds fornication over the more elusive aspects of mutual attraction. Still, the genre has succeeded in combining courtship with carnality on relatively rare occasions. The late Chuck Vincent, a past master of sophisticated silliness, set the bar with his 1979 classic JACK 'N' JILL, but even he could not recapture the magic for its largely disappointing sequel. His pristine porn output (as "Henry Paris") limited to but a handful of superior endeavors, Radley Metzger tastefully pillaged "Pygmalion" with THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN and liberally adapted the pseudonymous "Penelope Ashe" (in actuality, the entire writing staff of Newsday magazine) bestseller NAKED CAME THE STRANGER about the creative deceptions within an open marriage. Jeff Fairbanks concocted one of the classiest couples films then still a burgeoning trend with his delightful EXPOSED concerning a happily married former porn star's past catching up with him and, even though it keeps protagonists apart for much of the duration, the wonderful WICKED SENSATIONS by "Ron Chrones" (whose true identity remains a well-guarded secret) perfectly qualifies to close the gates on this subject.
Trust Paul Thomas, in his performing days often cast as some sort of Prince Charming (literally in the case of Fred Lincoln's Cinderella variation SERENA, AN ADULT FAIRYTALE), to revive adult's short-lived rom-com infatuation, not as a director as many sources wrongfully assume, but definitely leaving his imprint as co-author (along with Carl Esser, who wrote his insightful ON TRIAL quadrilogy) and by putting up the cash through his Cinnamon production company. He uncharacteristically delegated directorial duties to dependable Jack Remy, rightfully revered as DoP if generally given short shrift as filmmaker. A mere glance at his body of work, approaching the 100 movie mark since his (official) 1982 debut THE MISTRESS, and containing such unheralded gems as L'AMOUR, GIRLS ON FIRE and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODSEX reveals this casual dismissal as far from fair. Suffice it to say, he hits all the right notes supplied by BRANDY & Alexander's superb screenplay.
In a cute twist on Lubitsch's SHOP AROUND THE CORNER's narrative structure, which has characters who despise or ignore each other find unlikely romance through another medium (be it mail, crossed phone lines, the Internet or something less obvious), Brandy's already an overlooked typist at Alexander's art gallery. She (the incredible Jeanna Fine) is a nice Jewish girl, prone to wearing tight-fitting micro skirts, who always seems to be having one of those days. He (the tragically deceased Chet Anuszek a/k/a "Jon Dough") proves a bit of a prig and a stickler for detail. Apparently, they couldn't be more wrong for each other, so naturally Enter Brandy's aunt Nadia ("Dorthy de Molay" a/k/a Baltimore's own Delores Delux, a former John Waters associate who played character parts in John Stagliano's WILD GOOSE CHASE and VERY DIRTY DANCING) who runs a laundry service and decides to play matchmaker by switching their fineries. A call to put things right has them hitting it off in more ways than one, resulting in a fierce Fine solo and a date to meet in person. Since they only agreed to wear something red and drink white wine, there's bound to be another mix-up. He winds up with squeaky-voiced (it gets that way when she drinks ) K.C. Williams, best remembered for her stellar turn in Remy's ADVENTURES OF MIKKI FINN, as Jeanna practically jumps a bewildered Mickey Ray, who played a rare lead in PT's VICTIM OF LOVE, in the back alley behind the bar. Will Brandy and Alexander ever work through this string of misunderstandings and find true love ? Take a wild guess.
Although plot labors to keep them apart for long stretches, Fine and Dough make an engaging screen pair and their climactic coupling (oops, gave it away ) is worth waiting for. Appearing during a softer stage of her career, on a hinge between early days as a punkette (anyone recall the two-toned Mohawk ?) and subsequent emergence as drag queen dominatrix, Jeanna proves as accomplished an actress as she is a sexual performer, which is really saying something ! Just as appealing is Texas firebrand Britt Morgan as sultry Southern receptionist Grace, sneaking off into the back room for a heated quickie with very cute handyman Ernest Hemmingway a/k/a Chris Parker, a Russian (?) stud for hire shown to best advantage in PT's NO TIME FOR LOVE. Prior to in-person follow-up, both Brandy and Alexander fantasize about their prospective partners. For him, this means a slushy love scene with pneumatic "Alicyn Sterling" a/k/a real life ballerina Carrie Bittner, a part she played in Jim Enright's endearingly silly A LITTLE Christmas TAIL. She has a wilder imagination and pictures him as tattooed rocker Sikki Nixx (Fine's boyfriend at the time and titular star of Paul Norman's EDWARD PENISHANDS features), their frenzied dalliance mirrored by stalwart Tom Byron and Heather Hart, curves aplenty star of Michael Craig's WISHFUL THINKING.
As befits a '90s shot on film feature, production proves somewhat frugal in comparison to quality of yore. Fortunately, Remy can still make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and softly lights each set-up to perfection, belying the flick's wisp of a budget. That's all the good news in this area though. Michael Zen's editing was clearly a rush job and the less said about the New Agey soundtrack, credited to "Barry Boxx" (who did good work on Lucas Kazan's gay JOURNEY TO ITALY however), the better. Bearing in mind the dry spell the industry was going through and cutting some slack for subsequent diminished returns, this shapes up as one of the finest films of an admittedly poor period and a project all involved can be justifiably proud of.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?