June 30, 2011
Elektra Luxx (2010) is the sequel to the 2009 film, Women in Trouble, which chronicled a day in the life of ten Los Angeles women with the focus on porn star Elektra Luxx (Gugino). Well, she and many of the characters from that film are back. Having found out she was pregnant in the previous film, Elektra now attempts to make a living by teaching sex classes to housewives at a community center. However, she finds out that getting out of the sex film business isn’t that easy and her past comes back to haunt her.
This film cheekily parodies the porn industry as eloquent Latino sex blogger Bert Rodriguez (an amusingly convincing Gordon-Levitt) brings us to speed on Elektra’s illustrious porn career in the hyperbolic fashion of a devotee who also happens to live at home as evident in a sly reference to Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983). In many respects, Bert acts as a Greek chorus to the main action on the film, sometimes commenting on it in humorous fashion.
During her seminars, Elektra tries to empower her students by teaching them the proper ways to please their men. She soon encounters a stewardess named Cora (Shelton) who claims to have accidentally killed Elektra’s ex-lover Nick Chapel (Brolin) and gives her lyrics to songs that he wrote about her. Elektra also crosses paths with fellow porn star Holly Rocket (Palicki) who is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Elektra runs afoul of a private investigator by the name of Del (a slumming Olyphant) hired to track down Chapel’s missing lyrics.
Carla Gugino is more than capable of carrying the film and demonstrates that she is not just a pretty face as she has the capacity for comedy, riffing on her reputation as a sex symbol among genre fans. She even gets to sing, dance and play two very different twins.
Like Boogie Nights (1997), this film takes a behind-the-scenes look at the porn industry but plays it for laughs whereas Paul Thomas Anderson’s film was a drama. Director Sebastian Gutierrez even casts Julianne Moore (who starred in Boogie Nights) as the Virgin Mary in an amusing cameo. Despite playing things mostly for laughs, Elektra Luxx isn’t terribly funny. The screenplay features a lot of snappy dialogue of the screwball variety and works best when skewering the stereotypes of the porn industry but falters when it tries to be poignant.
There are a few moments that produce a chuckle or two but it lacks the smart satire of a film like Robert Altman’s The Player (1992). Like that film, Elektra Luxx is chock full of movie star cameos. Gutierrez and his wife Gugino must’ve called in a lot of favors to get the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Malin Akerman, and Julianne Moore to appear in what is essentially an extended goof on the porn industry. Gutierrez’s film is an amusing trifle of a film. The problem is that it satires an industry that is already self-parodying, which makes it an easy target. This is obviously a pet project for Gutierrez and Gugino and one feels like she and the rest of the cast are slumming between bigger, more significant films.
There are three deleted scenes that include more with Bert as he interviews the not so smart porn star Venus. Eric Stoltz pops up in another scene as the husband of one of Elektra’s students who engages in a threesome with his wife and another woman.