Classic little XXX rom-com with terrific acting performances
Contemporary audiences not familiar with superstar of a decade or two ago Stephanie Swift need only turn to the 1999 Wicked release "Pushover" to see her talent on full view. Unlike today's crop of jail-bait instant stars like Elsa Jean or Piper Perri, this sexy kid can act!
Biggest surprise in viewing this forgotten classic 18 years later is that it isn't a star vehicle but instead boasts a talented ensemble creating winning characters. Perhaps the only fly in the ointment (to quote an emphasized line in George Kaplan's clever screenplay) is Anthony Crane, cast for comic relief but wildly overacting as usual. He can't sink an otherwise winning picture.
Tony Tedeschi is convincing as the heavy, a mercenary talent agent who plots to turn plain Jane hotel maid Nelly Bish (Swift) into a sitcom star when he discovers that his meal ticket, one Lucy Childress, has died in a light plane crash. With his team of like-minded leeches Inari Vachs, Taylor St. Claire and Crane, he fashions a makeover and plans to sell Nelly, renamed "Penny Packer" to the network as a replacement for the late Lucy, as Lucy's supposed protegee.
Lucy's roommate and BFF Sue (played empathetically by Chloe) comes to Hollywood with her to protect her interests, and is kept busy by actor Jack Scott (the excellent leading man Michael J. Cox), while Tony & crew plot their scheme. They even manage to divide Nelly and Sue. To the rescue come writers Devin Wolf and the great Veronica Hart, resenting what Tony did to Lucy a decade back, and they take over Nelly's fate with the help of Sue and foil the bad guys.
It's a simple, familiar "make her a star" tale, with some incisive skewering of Hollywood types along the way. Chloe & Cox as the supporting couple are wonderful romantic players, and even the underrated Vachs gets to become sympathetic by turning over a new leaf at curtain time. Jace Rocker's direction is smooth and well-paced, with Swift's adeptness at slapstick physical comedy balancing both her inimitable sweet innocence and sexiness in both lesbian (humping Chloe and St. Claire) and boy/girl scenes.
"Pushover" had me at the opening credits, with the personal pleasure of reading that Swift would be joined by my favorite under-appreciated actors from the turn of this century: Vachs, Chloe, Cox and Wolf. Forget the many Wicked super-productions, this little gem is wonderful Adult entertainment.
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