Highly entertaining Stormy Daniels rom-com: better than mainstream
It may be more a commentary on Hollywood rom-coms than high praise for Adult Entertainment but Michael Raven's "Neighbors", starring and written by Stormy Daniels, is more entertaining and better in both scripting and acting departments than most PG and PG-13 versions of similar material. I enjoyed it far more than ANY movie where Dermot Mulroney plays second fiddle to some Hollywood diva.
Of course Stormy has become an Adult diva, perhaps on her way to having starred in or directed more feature videos (with real story lines as opposed to gonzo) than any actress in history. This time she has the capable Michael Raven at the helm, a brief (thankfully) running time, hot sex scenes and even one of the most entertaining BTS short subjects (directed by Voodoo, from her cast) I've ever seen.
Script plows familiar territory: wearing glasses (she's a successful advertising executive) Stormy portrays a timid soul, afraid to live life to the fullest. Her BFF Roxanne Hall keeps nudging her from the first scene to open up and get with it, but she shuns blind dates and almost any contact with the opposite sex that might bring romance.
Left hanging over her head is a month-ago breakup with an actual boyfriend (Mark Wood, whose prior gonzo-only experience is amusingly covered in Voodoo's revealing BTS). She even has a wet dream about sex with him, giving the Stormy fans a requisite dose of the big-bosomed star's prowess at oral sex and humping in spite of her character's reticence.
Comic relief is provided by her silly step-brother Evan Stone, introduced making love to Destiny St. Claire with both wearing flippers and scuba gear, but on Stormy's expensive Italian leather couch. Per the title, she's surrounded by quirky neighbors, including an old voyeur played by a crew member, Voodoo as a Latin Lothario with a crummy accent, and two "porno stars" essayed amusingly and quite sexily by Voodoo's frequent stablemate Nicole Sheridan and first-timer Exotica (a rare beauty who we learn is an old stripper friend of Stormy's from Vegas talked into trying the XXX scene).
Central romance revolves around future director Barrett Blade, styled to look like a bad boy (his natural look) replete with motorcycle, but turning out rom-com style to be Mr. Perfect by the final reel. I especially liked the corny ending which ties up the script neatly and would be too satisfyingly corny for a mainstream vehicle.
Along the way, Stormy's dialogue is sharp, many times worthy to come out of the mouth of a Bullock or a Weigl, and the acting is empathetic. Rarely does one do the knee-jerk "these porn stars can't act -let's get to the bed scene" reaction so many XXX fans seem to have mindlessly adopted as their default mode. Many, not a majority of course, Adult performers are perfectly capable of playing a full, movie role but simply are never considered for same -take India Summer for example, who can act rings around most successful TV stars.
Like the mainstream cinema, Adult is becoming increasingly polarized between "important" (actually self-important) projects and at the other extreme thousands of interchangeable often unwatchable gonzo exercises (akin to Hollywood's fall/winter Oscar-baiting serious dramas vs. animation & Marvel junk the rest of the year). I miss not just the Golden Age of the '70s but also more recently when Wicked and Vivid, among others, were cranking out entertaining, unpretentious star vehicles like clockwork -more like the '30s Factory System Golden Age of Tinseltown.
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