When “Bad Ideas” is a good idea

Richie Calhoun, Jacky St. James, and Alison Tyler in a good idea
If you agree that porn, bless its heart, is about dressing up the solitary act of masturbation, then the couples’ movie is itself kind of a fetish; It is a paraphilia in which viewers use the performers as props for their own sordid offscreen strivings.

Studio: New Sensations
Director: Eddie Powell, written by Jacky St. James
Starring: Richie Calhoun, Alison Tyler, Lexi Belle, Natasha Nice, Dana DeArmond, Amthony Rosano, Wolf Hudson, Xander Corvus, Jacky St. James

“Love, Marriage, & Other Bad Ideas” is another triumph in the further redemption of the couples’ movie. Maybe we know how it will end, but the journey is well worth it.

And some fetish porn is really great—I like what Kink.com does, Evil Angel’s aesthetic, and the attention to the rules as paid by Julie Simone and Ernest Greene—but a lot of times a company will see that there is profit potential in a fetish and will vomit out a lot of fetish-lite material that ends up turning off its audience or, worse, not respecting the form.

That is why couples’ movies can be so goddamn shitty. More often than not, we can’t expect that machine-crafted pieces of hollowed-out or artificially-emplumpened pieces of sex jerky can reasonably channel the wants and needs of modern suburban couples sufficient to really entertain and provoke them into a better sex life.

Why? Because the expectations are so low. And the lie most “romance” producers tell is that couples will actually watch that shit, rather than—as per usual—the guy alone. It is intensely fetishy to think of couples watching porn together.

Writer/director team Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell have, with admirable attention to both performers’ strengths and contemporary editing, produced another exceptional couples’ film with “Love, Marriage, & Other Bad Ideas.”

Couples’ therapist Richie Calhoun has made a hash of his own relationship, so he dispenses hard truths to the couples he counsels. Unfortunately for him, his bedside manner is apocalyptic, and he ends up being physically assaulted by his clients.

“You just want everybody to be as miserable as you,” he is told.

But you know what? Each couple takes Calhoun’s words to heart and has relationship-altering makeup sex.

Lexi Belle, who declares she isn’t a maid, has just bought a crystal-encrusted, $18,000 vacuum cleaner. Not only that, but she is dismissive of husband Anthony Rosano’s golf victories. After their visit to Dr. Calhoun, however, Rosano realizes Belle isn’t just a trophy wife (well, she is a trophy wife, but she loves him) and she agrees to make her expenditures worthwhile to him.

Ditto doormat Wolf Hudson and over-aggressive Natasha Nice. After kneeing the doctor in the groin for his harsh advice, Nice sweetly gives Hudson a gentle handy in the tub.

It is Corvus and DeArmond (whom St. James calls “my heros”) that really pull off the George and Martha bit; DeArmond is a nagging harpy and Corvus can only control his little section of the world by shutting down.

“If I don’t manipulate a situation through an act of revenge,” she says in therapy, “nothing ever gets done.”

“Do you realize how psycho that sounds?” Corvus says.

“It’s not psycho; it’s effective.”

We want them to fuck just so they will shut up.

“Bad Ideas” would be an excellent movie just with those elements, but into this mix of characters stroll two more.

St. James herself plays Calhoun’s sister, a bartender to whom the therapist unburdens himself. Even with a porn movie roiling all around them, this is an unexpected sweet touch; they have a nice relationship.

And it is the bartender who sends Calhoun a new client: Alison Tyler.

If for no other reason, the fact that we see the amiable and sweet brunette Tyler (playing an engaged woman uncertain about her upcoming nuptials) throughout the movie but don’t see her naked until the end makes this next-level porn filmmaking (as well as throwback porn filmmaking).

Tyler and Calhoun have a Sam and Diane relationship—or maybe Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi—and she shows up to his office each day wearing summer dresses and other outfits that no jury in the world would call slutty, but you can’t wait to see them come off.

We’re not sure what she sees in this character who mocks her, but Calhoun’s case is aided by his own vulnerability and the fact that his sister is pulling some strings of her own from behind the bar.

From the moment Tyler walks in, we know how the movie will end (because prior to Tyler walking in we thought the doctor would get with the bartender, but then we find out she’s his sister, and that would be a different movie entirely). And that’s just fine, considering we really want the movie to end that way.

It is a treat to hear common relationship woes (some broad, some disturbingly specific) played out in porn movie dialogue, and how the having of the sex is held up as a really good way to make the characters happy; it makes you think that all couples’ movies should be this good.

· Buy “Love, Marriage, & Other Bad Ideas” here

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Why “The Friend Zone” is more perilous than “The Twilight Zone”; Interview with Jacky St. James; “Drenched in Love”—Warrant song or Wicked movie?
See Also: New Sensations

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Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist

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