E1 Entertainment // 2011 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Russell Engebretson (Retired) // December 22nd, 2011
The water's fine. Come on in...
When Alex Sperling (Brett Dovern) finds his chances of being admitted to Harvard are suddenly on the rocks, he turns to a supposedly successful cousin, Roger (Matthew Lillard, The Descendants), to help him out with an internship. After arriving in California, Alex discovers that Roger is not an "aquatic engineer" with his own firm, but a pool boy with a knack for lying who cleans swimming pools for a living. When a wealthy client offers Roger the opportunity to watch his house while away on a trip to France, Roger stumbles upon the idea of turning the Beverly Hills mansion into a temporary brothel, thus solving Alex's tuition problems and collecting a tidy sum for himself. The harebrained scheme backfires on the neophyte pimps when the owner returns unexpectedly, but Roger has another ace up his sleeve...
Acting-wise, The Pool Boys is okay. Tom Arnold plays himself -- or as he says in the featurette, a version of himself -- and is generally funny as a paranoid, sex-obsessed, self-centered Hollywood celebrity; the leading man, Brett Davern, adequately fills his role as straight man; Matthew Lillard is charming and humorous even when the jokes are less than stellar; and Efren Ramirez as a demented gardener -- despite grandstanding in an utterly pointless flamenco stripper scene -- delivers a manic comic performance the few times he's on screen. Where the movie falls on its butt -- and hard -- is by way of the script.
The script for The Pool Boys is sometimes a marginally humorous sex farce, but more often an eye-glazing ride through another tits and ass retread of Risky Business. The film heaps on a hot and heavy helping of female erotica (or what passes for erotica in the mind of a teenage boy), and displays an abundance of jiggling female flesh, with an occasional bare breast shot. Vulgar jokes abound throughout the movie, especially in the last third of the flick. A few of them are amusing, but most only attain the level of high school locker-room raunch. To the script's credit, there's a fair amount of clever dialogue, but it's smothered by the derivative and contrived story.
The plot is pure boilerplate. There is no unexpected plot twist. In fact, there are no surprises at all. The story hues slavishly to the eighties-and-onward sub-genre of sex farce that began with the slick and stylish Risky Business and peaked around the time of the graphically vulgar There's Something About Mary and American Pie. The Pool Boys is closer in spirit to the latter pair, but minus the extreme raunchiness of Pie or the touchingly sentimental honesty that the Farrelly Brothers' script brought to Mary. The movie is not a total loss, but still subpar in comparison to its inspirations.
As for The Pool Boys (Blu-ray) technical merits, the 1.85:1/1080p AVC-encoded high definition transfer is pleasing, but black levels are often washed out, and colors -- though a couple notches above standard def -- are a bit dull. There's an overall softness to the majority of the picture that gives it the appearance of an HD DVD transfer ported over to Blu-ray, although it may simply be how the film was shot. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is adequate, but the dialogue is on the quiet side and even at higher volume sounds rather thin. It's a passable transfer, but certainly not demo material for one's new HDTV.
The main extra is a 12-minute featurette with actors and director expressing what a great time they had on set and how wonderful everyone was to work with -- though in the case of Tom Arnold and George Takei, some delightful sarcasm slightly cracks the professional facade. The other two extras are a trailer and a tatty bit called "Pool Boys Escort Service Virtual Lap Dance" that allows the viewer to pick one of three ladies in bikinis to do exactly what the title says (although they cheat by wearing pasties under their bikini tops).
Woody Allen, in his comedic masterpiece Love and Death, said that sex was dirty only if you did it right; The Pool Boys, like a horny young male, does not do it right. The movie is eager to please, but rather than aspiring to elegantly seduce the audience, it fumbles clumsily for the blouse buttons, and thus deserves only a mild rebuke or a hard slap in the face.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site