Cinema Epoch // 2006 // 77 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // April 10th, 2009
No more jokes about epileptic hookers.
Back in the '90s, those of us who couldn't afford Cinemax got our cheesy late-night jollies watching Up All Night, USA network's weekly airings of edited-for-TV sleaze features hosted by Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Shear. Hookers Inc. is the sort of no-budget dud that could have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other such pointless, "why did they make this?" fare as Loose Screws and Hot Times at Montclair High. Unfortunately -- or not -- it's 20 years too late for post-midnight cable exposure, which means Hookers Inc. will have to win fans through this DVD release from Cinema Epoch.
With production values a couple of steps up from a flip book and "guest star" Kato Kaelin its biggest name, Hookers Inc. would need something very special to keep its head above the usual T&A backwash.
Let me state right here that the usual T&A backwash is like a fine wine compared to the rotgut that is Hookers Inc., and if you're looking for a clever or sexy comedy, don't bother. But -- and this is a big but (and that's the level of humor here) -- the film has a kind of desperate and self-conscious charm that helps it go down easier (another joke for the sequel!) than the cynical self-congratulations usually found in these products.
The plot: Two boneheads (Tim Pingel, who also directed, and Matthew Dowling) want to be filmmakers. They make a living driving prostitutes to see their johns and try to get their respective acts together and raise money for their dream project, which seems to be a war movie. They decide to make money by getting their own girls, but Starship and Starshyp (with a "y") refuse to have sex for money and will only give massages, making them liabilities in the cash-for-comfort trade. Somehow or another, the boneheads get money anyway and, apparently, get to make their own movie starring some porn stars and hookers.
This simple and hackneyed plot would seem rife with possibilities for all manner of junior high-level humor, but somehow, it becomes complicated and oddly hard to follow. In the end, the guys make a porn film, but evidently, that's the film they wanted to make all along. I guess. This would be kind of sly and ironic if it winked back at the whole "we want to be indie filmmakers" business, but it doesn't. Nothing really builds on anything else here, even in that bad, low-budget sex comedy way. It's done as one big improv, which would be OK if they'd shot it in one sitting, but dragging it out over days and weeks, introducing and then dropping characters randomly, and tossing in a narration to explain things that shouldn't need explanation make these hookers headache-inducing.
There are actually a couple of funny bits in the first couple of minutes, including an opening scene with a "born-again" hooker and some "interview" footage with the two Starshi/yps. If they'd kept this as a motif -- more quasi-doc, like American Zombie, rather than tortured narrative -- they would have been better off. Instead, they sorta, kinda try to tell a story, and it all goes to crap.
But at least they know it's crap, and there's little pretension about it being anything else. During the commentary with Pingel, Dowling, and James Anderson (playing "Sac Boy," hee-hee), the mood is decidedly self-deprecating, and not in that annoying "look how much we did with so little" way. The commentary is actually the best part of this disc. There's a kinda cool post-mortem beers-and-chips feel about it that makes it more fun than the film. I'm guessing this is how people sometimes react when they see their home videos on YouTube.
Of course, Hookers Inc. would be more at home on YouTube or on public access cable. Hookers Inc. is on DVD because everything is on DVD. Well, not The African Queen and Mickey One and Make Way for Tomorrow and The Island of Lost Souls and dozens of other classic films, but virtually anything cobbled together on a home editing system seems somehow destined for a DVD release.
And, oh yes, this is a home video production. It looks and sounds wretched, and Cinema Epoch has done nothing to spruce it up. We also don't get subtitles to augment the terrible sound, and if there was anything worth listening to, that would annoy me.
Surprisingly, there are quite a few supplements on this disc. Not surprisingly, they suck, save for the commentary. Outtakes, deleted scenes, and "behind the scenes" are all pretty much the same: crap with people muffing lines or laughing at jokes that the audience didn't laugh at. There are also some interviews with porn stars outside a party hosted by Heidi Fleiss (or "Fliess," as it's spelled onscreen) thrown in for no particular reason.
Hookers Inc. isn't the worst cheesy sex comedy I've ever seen, but remember, I've watched Good Luck Chuck, Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation, Linda Lovelace for President, and The Happy Hooker Trilogy. Nonetheless, I think a visit from vice might be in order.
Guilty of odiousness in the first degree.
Review content copyright © 2009 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* MySpace Page