Tribeca 2010 Film Festival Reviews: Meet Monica Velour

The premise of Keith Bearden’s Meet Monica Velour is simple enough: Tobe (Dustin Ingram) is a lonely 17-year-old who lives with his grandpa (Brian Dennehy), and whose social awkwardness has driven him madly in love with favorite porn model Monica Velour (Kim Cattrall). Upon discovering that Monica’s scheduled for a series of shows in Nowheresville, Indiana, the young man sets off under the guise of visiting an interested buyer of his weinermobile in order to see her. Inevitably the two meet up, have an awkward semi-romance, and learn lessons about life and love. At least that’s what the director would like to happen. Unfortunately, every beat of this “comedy” is off, and what little plot exists feels derivative of Judd Apatow in every way possible. There are long conversations between the two about friends, family, and life that are meant to feel reflective but come across lifeless and insincere, and rather than endearing characters or meaningful relationships, we’re given a pathetic freak willing to drive his hot dog truck cross-country to meet the porn-star-idols he worships, and a washed-up skin-mag goddess who wants only to see her child again. You presume there will be a turnaround with Tobe—desperately want the boy to realize the harshness of Monica’s reality so he can move on and grow into a socially acceptable human being. Sadly, his arc feels pointless and unfulfilling—the boy starts this film inexcusably dense and socially inept, and that’s exactly how he ends it.

Little happens after the two meet up. Tobe takes Monica out on a date, lots of penis jokes and innuendo are made, and classic films get lampooned in porno form. It’s an incredibly unfunny film that tries too hard, focusing too much on “risqué” jokes (like a scene of Frankenstein boning a girl) rather than legitimate character-based humor. Velour’s single saving grace is a later scene with a sage-like black man who collects random relics of Americana; he states “We don’t have the Sistine Chapel or Taj Mahal. We’ve got Pez Dispensers and Big Boy. We throw things away—that’s what America does. Throws things away”. Unfortunately, this scene is utterly superfluous; it spurs Tobe into another act of grandiose compassion and idiocy which has little effect, while beating audiences’ over the head with the film’s message—effectively yells “Monica has been ‘thrown away’ by society—lost herself by losing her porn-star identity”.

The film’s underpinnings smack of recent indie culture hits like Superbad and Napoleon Dynamite, but its lazy writing and unchanging creepster characters place it squarely in the Observe and Report $5 bin of comedy. The jokes are cheap thirteen-year-old humor that will miss that audience entirely, as the pornagraphic elements necessitate an “R” rating, and without this abrasive, overzealous sense of “humor”, it doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The storyline with Monica’s estranged daughter wanders and goes nowhere, Tobe never quite matures or learns anything, and the audience never gets a sense of purpose or closure. Had Velour been less raunchy, it would be easy to recommend to the middle-school crowd, but as is, this film is a plodding unfunny mess that would be best left in the toilets from which it sprang.

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