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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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"The Fluffer" glosses over the good stuff


Apart from the sex, porno flicks are usually best-known for their poor acting and laughable attempts at a storyline that will justify the sex. While "The Fluffer," a new film directed by Wash West and Richard Glatzer and set in the gay porn industry, isn't quite that bad, it leaves more than a little to be desired.

Sean McGinnis (Michael Cunio) has just moved to Los Angeles, hoping to get a job in the film industry as a cameraman. When he accidentally gets a gay porn tape from his local video shop he's immediately hooked on the pumped up body and apparently exceptional phallus of Johnny Rebel (Scott Gurney).

Sean heads over to the film company and asks for a job. He's hired by the shady bunch and on his first shoot is called upon to serve as Rebel's "fluffer," which entails helping the, um, talent keep things, well, going. But since he's enamored of the beefy Johnny, he's more than willing to face the task at hand on that occasion and on others that follow.

The problem is Johnny isn't gay, he's just in the business for the money. Every day he goes home to his slender, sexy girlfriend Julie, who works as an exotic dancer called Babylon.

The film follows Johnny and Julie's relationship and Sean's struggles with his infatuation with Johnny. Later, Johnny, who is also addicted to drugs, gets in some serious hot water and while Julie has kicked him to the curb after he reacted poorly to news that she was pregnant, Sean steps him to help Johnny out.

There are some great laughs to be had, especially early on during the scenes that show the porno flicks being filmed. The sets are hilarious, as are the half-baked scenarios.

The problem is none of the performances is especially good; most never rise above easy stereotypes: the dim-witted porn star, the sleazy porn mavens, etc. As a result, we couldn't care less about any of them.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter because the story doesn't give us too many moments to care about, either. Sean likes bad boy Johnny Rebel who loves Julie (or does he?) and suffers for it. A few cursory attempts are made to flesh out Sean's youthful relationship with a much-older tough-guy neighbor, but these are sporadic and poorly developed.

While the film's advertising quotes a magazine as calling "The Fluffer," "everything you hoped 'Boogie Nights' would be," the opposite it true. While "Boogie Nights" was well-written, funny and, at times, moving. "The Fluffer" is only a little fun and extremely slow moving.

"The Fluffer" opens Fri., June 14 at Landmark's Oriental Theatre. Don't be surprised if it disappears after a week.


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