Orgazmo (1997): Midnight Movie, Showcase of Multi-Talented Trey Parker

Toronto Film Festi Sept. 7, 1997–

Inventive and spiked with perversely wicked humor, Orgazmo is a delightful midnight movie that showcases the multiple talents of Trey Parker as writer-director-star.

It’s been a long time since a potent midnight picture has emerged triumphantly, and Orgazmo may fill the bill, with good prospects for a lengthy run in major cities like N.Y. and L.A.

October should consider a limited theatrical distribution, beyond the midnight circuit, for a film that premiered to appreciative screams and hoots at a Toronto Festival screening and is bound to please young, hip viewers with its profane dialogue and droll take on the low-budget porn industry in L.A.

The tale centers on a boy-next-door type, Joe Young (Parker), a struggling Mormon actor from Utah, who preaches the word of God in L.A. with dubious results–he’s kicked out from one apartment after another. One day, he stumbles upon the set of an adult movie, which is directed by the infamous Maxxx Orbison (Michael Dean Jacobs). It doesn’t take long for the greedy, egomaniac filmmaker to spot Joe as the leading man for his new effort, Captain Orgazmo. Joe’s religious upbringing–and conservative fiancee at home–raise serious doubts, but when Maxxx promises big bucks–and a stunt penis to replace him in the hardcore scenes–Joe relents.

On the set, Joe befriends the short and skinny Ben Chapleski (Dian Bachar), who plays Choda-Boy, his brave sidekick. A engineer with a Ph.D. from MIT, Ben made his fortune as the inventor of Orgazmorator, a ray-gun which sends a light-beam that stuns its victims with the most intense orgasm they have ever experienced.

“There are so many pornos made every year, no one will ever see your movie,” Ben says in his attempt to put Joe’s anxieties to rest. Reality, however, proves otherwise. Captain Orgazmo becomes a huge success, with Joe praised by critics and audiences all over the world. A new cultural icon, the movie and its star inspire countless ripoffs and imitations. All’s well until g.f. Lisa (Robyn Lynne) suddenly shows up from Utah and accidentally watches the movie at a video store. From this point on, the minimalist tale proceeds with some wonderfully original ideas carried out to maximum effect.

It doesn’t take a movie connoisseur to perceive that Orgazmo’s basic premise–a naive, small-town couple pulled into a sleazy, decadent milieu–is influenced by The Rocky Horror Show. However, Parker is shrewd enough to realize that his deliciously nasty humor should flow as directly as possible out of the straight-faced acting of his characters: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the eccentric (and there are plenty of each type).

As a director, Parker needs to sharpen his visual style, which will be helpful in executing his elaborate sight gags. Orgazmo’s terrific gimmick–a beam that induces extended orgasms–is inserted by Parker whenever the plot appears to sag or become too predictable. The hilarious, show-stopping moments include an old limping lady who loses the little balance she has; a cop whose brutish arrest of a hoodlum turns into a sexual act, and a dog whose sexual potency seems to last forever.

Tech credits are good, particularly Tristan Paris Bourne’s bold production design and Kristen Anacker’s colorful costumes, which contribute immeasurably to the film’s campy ambience and overall fun. The order of the last two scenes should be reversed: Maxxx’s physical punishment should precede the more upbeat scene, in which Joe, Lisa and Choda-Boy form a new unit with a heroic mission of its own.