Orgazmo

on October 23, 1998 by Ray Greene
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   Long on attitude and surprisingly sincere in its sentimentality, "Orgazmo" offers up a winning example of a dying movie art form: the cheekily offensive "midnight movie" comedy, mounted with flair, style and panache. By definition a film not for every taste, "Orgazmo" nonetheless has a decent shot at breakout success, thanks to the indie muscle of October Films and an accident of association and timing: the fact that writer-director-star Trey Parker ("Cannibal: The Musical") has gone on since completing "Orgazmo" to create "South Park," cable TV's animated sensation of 1997 and '98.
   The in-your-face sensibility of "South Park" is recognizably at work in some of "Orgazmo's" more extreme moments, but Parker is sharp enough to realize that, for his movie to work, a crucial amount of sympathy has to be maintained for his protagonist. The intentionally implausible storyline has a kind of post-modern Capra-esque quality to it, with L.A.-based Morman missionary Joe Young (Parker) recruited into the pornography racket thanks to his unlikely skills as a kickboxer. It seems an unscrupulous porno mogul is mounting a Batman-like superhero opus entitled "Orgazmo," and finds himself in need of a patsy with Young's fighting skills. Persuaded by the fact that he won't be required to film his own penetration shots and by the chance at a payday large enough to enable him to marry his chaste fiancee (Dian Bachar), Joe reluctantly agrees to take on a star part under the stage name Joe Hung, eventually blossoming before our eyes into an idealistic superhero, ready to do battle against a jaded age.
   The fish-out-of-water dynamic stays fresh thanks to Parker's inspired ability to maintain an unerring sense of innocence in stylized and squalid surroundings. Unlike most contemporary comedies, "Orgazmo" lets the jokes speak for themselves, with Parker, Bachar and Matt Stone as Orgazmo's Robin-like sidekick pulling off performances that are simultaneously a send-up of squarejawed movie heroism and a celebration of the very Middle American value system the movie itself seeks to undermine.
   Like many a class clown before him, Parker's facile wit and hyperactive joke mechanism mask a genuine yearning for the very normalcy his own temperament denies to him. Unlikely as it sounds, "Orgazmo" is a comedy with a sincere streak of affection for everything it sends up, a Mad Magazine movie parody with a surprisingly large amount of heart.    Starring Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Dian Bachar. Written and directed by Trey Parker. Produced by Fran Kuzui, Matt Stone and Jason McHugh. An October release. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 95 min.
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