‘Orgazmo’ fails to perform

By The Columbia Chronicle

Trey Parker, co-creator of cable television show “South Park”, and friends are out to offend and entertain once again, this time in theaters with the sci-fi comedy “Orgazmo.” Written and directed by Parker, who also stars in the title role, “Orgazmo” is an assault on morality and a salute to sex, greed, and all that’s bad (or good), thinly veiled by a ridiculous and off-beat storyline.

Trey Parker is Joe Young, the naive Mormon missionary who comes to Hollywood in search of converts for Jesus. Joe has two weeks left of missionary work, after which he will return to wed his beloved Lisa (Robyn Lynne Raab) in Utah. But Joe has a problem. Lisa wants to marry in the expensive Mormon temple, a wish Joe cannot afford. He has faith that Jesus will eventually provide a solution, however.

True, God may work in mysterious ways, but the events that unfold next can hardly be considered divine intervention. During a series of door-to-door rejections from would-be converts, Joe happens upon the set of a Maxxx Orbison (Michael Dean Jacobs) pornographic movie and is quickly attacked by Orbison’s guards. Joe fights off the thugs with incredible martial arts moves, and Orbison is impressed. He offers Joe thousands of dollars to play Captain Orgazmo, a virile superhero who combats sex villains. Joe reluctantly agrees to take the part after convincing himself that this is what he must do to wed his true love properly.

Joe Young, now Joe Hung, pairs up with MIT graduate Ben Chapelski (Dian Bachar) to fight on-

screen crime as Orgazmo and Choda-Boy, a twisted dynamic duo that uses their “Orgazmorator” and various sex toys as weapons against their foes. The team hits gold- their first video does so well that Joe soon finds himself accepting more money than he can imagine to star in “Orgazmo” sequels, even though he longs to be back with Lisa. Trouble ensues when Lisa arrives unexpectedly in Los Angeles and discovers the truth about his acting career. Lisa demands that Joe leave, but when he tries, Orbison vows to stop him. Joe, Lisa and Ben find life imitating art when they are forced to use Ben’s real Orgazmorator invention to save them all from the evil Orbison.

“Orgazmo” is another check-your-brain-at-the-door comedy that relies simply on sex jokes and gross-out humor. Unfortunately, I found much of the sophomoric comedy that pervades “Orgazmo” rudimentary and unoriginal. It just does not work as well as its “midnight movie” predecessors (“Rocky Horror Picture Show”) or even some of its contemporaries (“Something About Mary,” “Wayne’s World”). But the film does have redeeming qualities besides the occasional laugh it manages to provide.

The acting in “Orgazmo” is surprisingly strong, and Parker is particularly effective as the fish-

out-of-water porn star. He portrays Joe with the innocence and reluctance required without resorting to stereotypical characterization. Although Joe is an easy target because of his wholesomeness, audiences will find themselves rooting for him more than laughing at him because of Parker’s adept performance. His comic timing with Bachar is near-perfect as well, rivaling that of an equally cheesy yet endearing tag team, television’s “Batman and Robin.” Raab, as Lisa, follows Parker’s lead, creating a character that reminds me of June Cleaver on speed. Matt Stone (co-creator of “South Park” and producer of “Orgazmo”) compliments the comedic assembly as dim-witted “Dave the Lighting

Guy” and is generally amusing with classic South Parkian commentary. Unfamiliar faces round out the cast, though real-life porn stars Ron Jeremy, The Fat Lady Stripper and others appear in cameo roles.

“Orgazmo” largely aims (and succeeds) to be crude, rude and downright uncouth. One could argue that its NC-17 rating is because of the subject matter alone, but

“Boogie Nights” managed to avoid that inevitable box office kiss-of-death with similar material. While no scene is truly graphic, many are indeed over-the-top tasteless and thus probably deserving of NC-17. But audiences have come to expect such things in the name of comedy from Parker and Stone. In this respect, they won’t be disappointed. However, they also have come to expect non-stop, knock-down hilarious comedy, which “Orgazmo” mostly fails to provide. Granted, it does have its moments: Parker’s prayer to God and Bachar’s “hamster” technique are not to be missed, and the film’s opening song is a riot. Overall, though, the film is just another average parody with lowbrow humor, distinguished only by decent performances from relatively new faces.

You can’t blame Parker and Stone for trying to do on film what they have mastered on cable TV: irreverent and addictive comedy. But with such a high bar set for them by past success, it is no surprise that, here, they fall a little short.