It also ends up having "six genres in a head-on collision," as author Brad Linaweaver described it. That won't be to everyone's taste, especially for those wanting a straight-ahead plot. Yet it has considerable rewards if one is patient with it, as I admit that I had to be.
This "suspense/comedy" has an IRS investigator, on inter-agency exchange duty as a federal air marshal, being called out for making a misstep in apprehending a suspected terrorist. He's actually right in his suspicions, though he doesn't know that.
Yet his supposed screw-up gets him sent to one of the oddest corners of IRS purgatory: He's made the latest receiver and manager of a legal brothel, long troubled and owing taxes, outside Pahrump, Nevada. (This was inspired by an actual case.)
The lovely, erhm, working women all around him may be hiding a few surprises, including links to the case that put him in career limbo. And is the pleasure-fulfillment engineer he's falling for exactly who she seems? He's determined to track these mysteries, and his chase goes from a shooting range to Hoover Dam to a mysterious medical research facility. Oh, and to a Pahrump casino with two-for-one dinner buffets!
Nichelle Nichols is the determined, beset, but always sexy madam of this establishment, trying to clean up after her late lover (its former owner) and his losses at the craps table. She has the girls join her in a stab at gaining local respectability that's too pleasing and unexpected to be spoiled here.
The tracing-the-terrorists action, ultimately weaving through the silken curtains of Lady Magdalene's pleasure dome, does gets too intricate in the last half-hour, though the story leaves no loose ends. It also is more clearly told in the DVD / demand-video version than in the earlier theatrical screenings, with background details being placed in flashbacks.
Presenting all the detail without confusion finally gets beyond the acting confidence of most of the undeniably lovely working girls — though not at all for Nichols, nor for fellow leads Ethan Keogh and Susan Smythe. Yet they're all game for the effort, and their enthusiasm ends up winning out, right up to and through the closing credits.
I saw this film being developed over several years of updates from protean creator Neil Schulman himself at libertarian venues. (Although I have known him for a decade, I had no role in this production, nor did I write this review at his instigation.)
It doesn't have high polish, yet it makes more out of a half-million dollars than most big-studio "high concepts" do with fifty times the budget and a tenth the intelligence.
It did save money to have Neil's mother, daughter, ex-wife, and late father (!) manage to take part in the proceedings, as well as other friends who add anti-authoritarian asides that never lose the comic beat. (The plot does have digressions, but they end up being meaningful in retrospect.)
This is an independent creation that makes the most of current tools, but does suffer at times from the limitations of its budget. The sound levels and editing are inconsistent, though such faults are less evident on the small screen than on the large. Some of the visual contrasts and transitions don't work smoothly, though the DVD edit improves on earlier screenings.
Yet if you're in the mood for an audacious esthetic goulash — not at all evenly cooked to one consistency of tone — that combines thriller, comedy, musical, camp, satirical, and political sensibilities, you will very likely be well-entertained.