Performed by XOXO, Panda
Written by Marc Bianchi
Published by Baby Shark Music (BMI)
Courtesy of No More Good Ideas
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If You Know It's A Mockumentary, You Might Enjoy It
So, "Confessions of a Porn Addict" is not a real documentary. I mention that fact in the beginning of this review because I didn't know that fact while I was watching it. It was only when I looked the film up later that its intent as a mockumentary came to my attention.
Did not knowing it was a mockumentary ruin my enjoyment of the film? Well, movies about people who struggle with addiction, particularly an addiction as complicated as sex addiction, are not entertaining to begin with. They can be fascinating, but definitely not enjoyable to watch.
For instance, Paul Schrader's "Auto Focus" (2002) was a good film that started out as kind of fun, only to gradually decline in mood into a grim portrayal of a bleak and sad life that catches up to the protagonist. The film has no shortage of nudity, but a huge shortage of eroticism and excitement.
Simply put, there's nothing inherently funny about sex addiction. Its status as an actual addiction is the subject of hot debate within psychology circles, but those who succumb to it lead truly sad lives.
So if sex addiction is not funny, why make a mockumentary about it? Why make a film about a guy who spends most of his time in his apartment masturbating to hardcore porn to the point where he loses his girlfriend, his job, and a chance at a normal productive life, and pass it off as a comedy? What's the point?
I have read defenders of this film label this movie as "deadpan", and "of an acquired taste", which may be what the filmmakers intended. However, to me, this film was equivalent to a friend of mine telling me that he has cancer, and then telling me he was just kidding three days later.
If an actual friend told me this outright lie, I wouldn't laugh, nor would I be particularly offended. If anything, I would wonder what the point of lying to me was.
I watch these events unfold on the screen, and the last thing I want to do is laugh. I see Mark Tobias (Spencer Rice) going through stacks of porno DVDs and magazines, and want him to get help and declutter his apartment.
I see Mark go to a support group by the urging of his friends who are filming this documentary, and, after the group director suggests Mark literally lock his penis up in a cage and throw away the key, I want him to join another group. This bizarre solution to Mark's curbing his masturbation habit flies right in the face of the group's serenity prayer, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." The group director's apparent not knowing the difference is ironic, but not funny.
I also see Mark's ex-girlfriend, Felice (Lindsey Connell), actually move to Los Angeles to star in pornographic films, presumably to spite Mark, and I think to myself, "Hey, that is one of those scenarios where truth is stranger than fiction". But in the end, it's not funny.
"Confessions of a Sex Addict" would have made an engrossing documentary if it were real. Showing someone's struggle to overcome an addiction more rooted in selfishness and self-indulgence than other addictions would not only have made a captivating, albeit grim, subject, and it could have been a tool to help others struggling with similar demons.
Instead, its mockumentary style and execution felt simultaneously inappropriate, inert, flaccid, and most of all, pointless. There's nothing wrong with making fun of a taboo subject, but it helps when the filmmakers actually know how to make it funny.
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