|Orgazmo (Unrated Special Edition)|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 29 March 2005|
Growing up Mormon and also being a big fan of “South Park,” I feel especially qualified to review “South Park” co-creator Trey Parker’s epic tale of a Mormon missionary who accidentally becomes a porn star. “South Park” is such a smash hit for Comedy Central that the merchandising and DVD revenue from the show much be astonishing.
I assumed that the power of “South Park” is what gave Parker the juice in Hollywood to be able to get an edgy comedy like “Orgazmo” produced. Turns out, as we learn in the “drunken director’s commentary,” that “Orgazmo” was made before “South Park” was even picked up by Comedy Central. The show tested incredibly poorly and the executives at Comedy Central weren’t going to give it the green light. Thus Parker put his efforts back into making “Orgazmo.”
When “Orgazmo” was released in theaters, it was rated NC-17. On this DVD release, it features the NC-17 and an unrated version. Contrary to what you might think based on the rating, the subject matter and the fact that it’s a Trey Parker production, “Orgazmo” isn’t really a filthy movie. Ultimately, it was much tamer than I would have guessed and I was really hard-pressed to guess at the reasons that it was smacked with an NC-17 rating.
The basic premise of” Orgazmo” is that Parker’s character, Joe Young, is a young fresh-faced Mormon who is sent off to Los Angeles to preach the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for two years. While going door to door, he stumbles upon the set of a porno film shoot in the Hollywood Hills. Hijinks ensue and after Joe kicks the asses of the on-set security guards while trying to get away from the photo shoot, the movie director asks Joe if he will take over the part of the main character Orgazmo, as the original actor has sustained a work-related injury.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mormon history, Parker took the fist name of the first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, and fused it with the last name of the second Mormon prophet, Brigham Young. It’s a subtle joke for those who know Mormonism, but it’s funny nonetheless. When Joe gets back to his home state of Utah, he plans on marrying his sweetheart and starting a family. It’s the same path followed by tens of thousands of young 19-year-old Mormons every year. He is torn by his duty to God, but feels that he needs to take the acting job so he can raise the money that he needs for his upcoming wedding.
There are a few inaccuracies in the movie, one of which is a major plot point I had to just ignore and accept for the sake of the rest of the movie. Joe decides to sign on to play the part of Orgazmo because he needs $20,000 so he can marry his wife in the Mormon temple. What he doesn’t explain is that Mormon weddings that happen in the various temples around the world are essentially free. Some cost may be involved for paperwork, and special clothing is needed should the couple not wish to wear “loaners” for the secret ceremony, but there is no chance that he would really need this sum of money. I then thought that perhaps he meant to use the money for a large reception at the church after their wedding that is open to friends and family members who do not have proper privileges to attend the actual ceremony. This theory got shot out the water as soon as I remembered my own brother’s reception. There are so many people who will bring dinner and dessert to a Mormon wedding reception that it might as well be free. It’s also absolutely free to use the church for a wedding reception, so the only real costs that are left are a few flowers, a photographer and a maybe a videographer. I would have believed Joe’s dilemma if he had been getting the squeeze put on him to buy a house and have a child immediately. That way, he could have justified his foray into porn by saying that he needed the money for a down payment for the home. Nonetheless, I just went with the plot anyway.
The movie rolls along at an awkward pace, with occasional fight scenes, porn shoots and flashbacks to Joe’s girlfriend at home, who is always busy going to church, choir practice or a youth group activity. The ending is pretty standard fare and Parker does a decent job of carrying the premise through the 90-minute running time of the movie, but the plot is pretty predictable. The gems in the movie are people like Matt Stone’s goofy director of photography on the set, who seems to have a fixation with starting off sentences with the words “I don’t mean to sound queer or nothing but….” His performance is absolutely hilarious, albeit brief. Dian Bachar’s Choda Boy, sidekick of Orgazmo, also gives a great performance as does writer, director and star Parker.
Parker had a lot of time to fill and you can tell that he was early his career when he wrote “Orgazmo.” If he were to make it today, with almost 10 years of “South Park” under his belt, it would have been a more solid movie from a pacing standpoint.
If you have seen “BASEketball,” then you have an idea of what to expect from “Orgazmo.” They are very different movies with very different plots, but the timing of the jokes and the look and feel are surprisingly similar. Shot for around one million dollars, “Orgazmo” actually has some production values and does not look like your average low-budget independent film. The film sets where the movies are shot at are appropriately cheesy and the fact that Ron Jeremy is a co-star tells you that they weren’t trying to make a mainstream film.
There are several sets of commentaries on this release of “Orgazmo,” including one where Kevin Smith of independent movie “Clerks” fame chimes in with his thoughts. The real gem on this disc is the drunken director’s commentary, starring Parker, Stone and a revolving group of actors, producers and friends who visit Parker while the track is being recorded. It only takes about two minutes of hearing this commentary to make you understand what a “South Park” brainstorming meeting must be like.
Parker and Stone decided to play the “Orgazmo Drinking Game” while doing the commentary track. Whenever the words “Jesus” or “Orgazmo” are spoken during the movie, everyone in the room has to take a drink. It’s silly and sophomoric, but the results end up being funnier than the movie. The film itself is very hit and miss with its humor and even the most diehard of fans will admit that it has some bad pacing, dull moments and jokes that fall flat on the floor. However, Parker and his cohorts are brilliant (even in their drunken state) at explaining why something was supposed to be funny. Their explanations of what they were trying to do on the lame parts provides a new outlook on the film.
One of the running jokes is that actor Dian Bachar, who does the voice of Satan’s boyfriend Chris on “South Park,” accuses Parker of wanting to play the part of Choda Boy so he would have a dildo on his head. Choda Boy is to Orgazmo as Robin is to Batman. Choda Boy’s utility belt is filled with sex toys that have been converted into weapons and atop his dome is a floppy rubber dildo. Every time Choda Boy makes an entrance on the screen, Parker screams, “Dian has a dick on his head!” and laughs out of control.
“Orgazmo” is worth a watch if you like “South Park” and that kind of humor, but strangely, Parker has said that he has found many people who love “South Park” hate “Orgazmo.” On consideration, I can actually see why this is. Almost every episode of “South Park” has a perfectly-paced plot and the humor is consistent. “Orgazmo” has a very funny premise and some very funny scenes, but ultimately it runs of steam and you stop really caring about what happens. The commentaries are what I think will have the most crossover appeal between “South Park” and “Orgazmo” fans and I think one might even enjoy the movie better by watching all of the commentary tracks first, so there are other things to watch for in the film itself. I’ve watched the drunken commentary twice and I bet I’ll catch even more little jokes and hilarious tidbits of information the next time I view this cheesy but ambitious Trey Parker film.