- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Anchor Bay Films
Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
ny guy who’s ever spent any amount of time “appreciating” pornography has sooner or later found a particular actress who catches his lustful eye. What usually happens after that guy finds that girl is that he sets out to find more of her work, which is understandable, because that’s what we do with any artist we’ve come to appreciate. Whether or not pornographic actors should be considered artists is a debate for another place, but the devoted manner in which 17-year-old Tobe (Dustin Ingram) obsesses over fictitious ‘80s porn icon Monica Velour (Jamie Tisdale) leaves you feeling that she no doubt has that certain “something” that surely must have set her apart from her contemporaries.
All that being said, what most of us don’t do is try to seek out and meet our favorite porn star, but as you might guess from the title “Meet Monica Velour,” that’s exactly what Tobe does. But this is present day, and Monica is now 49 years old and a far cry from the nubile young vixen featured in Tobe’s VHS collection. She’s lost most of her looks and gained a fair amount of weight. She smokes, drinks and snorts. She lives in a trailer park in Pinhook, Indiana. She has a young daughter whom she’d desperately like to get custody of, and an obnoxious ex-husband (Sam McMurray) who’s hell bent on keeping that from ever happening. Despite all of this, Tobe remains smitten, and it’s easy to see why, because the 49-year-old Monica Velour (or rather Linda Romanoli, which is her real name) is played by Kim Cattrall.
Now, if you’re anything like me, then you probably became really sick and tired of Samantha Jones, Cattrall’s character on “Sex and the City.” This likely is because you also became sick and tired of the series. Perfectly understandable. It was quite possibly the most insufferable TV show of the past decade. Let’s not hold that against Cattrall, however. It seems that she pretty much played the character as it was written, and you can’t blame her for taking the role given that meaty parts for actresses over 40 are hard to come by.
But think back to when you were a teenager and Kim Cattrall played characters like Miss Honeywell in “Porky’s,” or Gracie Law in “Big Trouble in Little China,” or even Emmy in “Mannequin.” That pre-Samantha Jones Cattrall was a screen presence you could fall in love with – in much the same way that Tobe falls for Monica Velour. For this writer, such thoughts are a big part of the reason the movie works for me. It brought Cattrall back to me, which I honestly didn’t think possible after enduring years of the HBO series with my wife. She lets it all hang out here and gives herself over to the character completely, warts and all. Linda/Monica isn’t even a terribly likable person, but she is someone whom we understand almost from the word go. As long you as you can understand why a character does what they do in a movie, it isn’t always important to like them.
The movie itself is little more than a quirky character piece. From a plot standpoint, there isn’t much that’s remarkable about it, yet its two central figures are so honestly drawn that they make up for any predictability along the way. It’s got a good supporting cast including a great turn by Keith David as an artist and a cranky one by Brian Dennehy as Tobe’s grandfather. (There is one shot of Dennehy that you’ll never be able to unsee. You’ve been warned.) The cinematography is inventive and the direction from first-timer Keith Bearden is thoughtful and efficient. It’s reminiscent of the types of indie movies that were being made about 10 or 15 years ago that we don’t see much of these days. How refreshing it is to see a funky little comedy/drama like this one that doesn’t involve loads of fart jokes and uncreative profanity. Unfortunately, those are likely the very reasons it didn’t get much of a theatrical release, which is a shame, because Cattrall deserves an Oscar nom and she probably won’t get one for this work, which is some of the very bravest and best of her long career.
I haven’t talked much about newcomer Dustin Ingram’s performance, and that’s mostly because I remain somewhat flummoxed by it. It’s possible that Tobe will polarize viewers, and some will find him difficult to relate to. He’s not a pervert and has plenty of fixations – like old music and monster movies – outside of Monica. He’s very much a boy on the verge of becoming a man. He lost his mother at an early age and never even knew his father, so there’s good reason for him being so fucked up. But I felt removed from him through much of the film, and I can’t figure out if this was Bearden’s aim, or if it was just down to my perception. When all was said and done, he was a fully-realized character, but it did take 90 minutes to get there, which I suppose is the whole point of watching movies – to go on a journey, and “Meet Monica Velour” definitely takes you on one of those.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The disc features a wonderfully chatty commentary track between Bearden and Cattrall. You can tell the pair genuinely like and respect one another and for those who enjoy the film, it’s a great listen. There are also a handful of deleted scenes which are above par and the theatrical trailer.