Sony // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 24th, 2009
Someone is about to make a killing.
The title is certainly provocative, but this Lifetime original movie is about as hot and bothered as an episode of the The Golden Girls.
Las Vegas casino magnate and all-around dirtbag Ted Binion (Matthew Modine) falls in love with a stripper named Sandy (Mena Suvari, American Beauty) and suddenly he finds himself drowning in a world of drugs and alcoholism and self-destructive behavior. Eventually this all ends in, well, self-destruction: he's found dead in his home, succumbed to an apparent overdose.
But questions over the death spark off a firestorm of sensationalism. Is it possible that Ted was murdered? Does Sandy or her boyfriend have a role in this potential malfeasance? And why can't I keep my eyelids open?
I'm not familiar with the events dramatized in Sex and Lies in Sin City but a quick Google search reveals that I didn't miss much. Oh, I suppose it's perfectly suitable for a Law and Order episode, but a full-length movie is a stretch, Lifetime original or not.
Here's what I kind of liked: the performances weren't bad, particularly Mena Suvari who goes all-in, from doing the sleazy stripper thing to emoting like a champ during her tense times while on trial for Binion's murder. And speaking of Binion, Matthew Modine just goes bonkers as the drug-addled whacko. Maybe he's angling for People's Choice Award. I also thought the tone was well-done. The subject matter is dramatic, what with overdoses and affairs and murder trials and rabid populism, but there are some lighter tones blended in with the heavy-lifting.
That's about all that stands out to me in what is otherwise and tedious affair that descends into a muck of flat courtroom drama sequences. In the end, I just didn't care about anyone in this movie -- not Binion or Sandy or her boyfriend or Bunion's sister (Marcia Gay Harden), not anyone. And the depth of the scandal, which the disc synopsis describes as "the biggest scandal in Las Vegas" never grabbed me. Doesn't stuff like this regularly appear in the Vegas police blotter? Or maybe I've watched far too much CSI.
Also, I probably don't need to state this, but if you're after anything resembling titillation -- and obviously the Sony marketing corps have done their best to push this angle with their disc packaging -- you're not going to find it here. Once again, we've got a movie that pushes the bizarre meme that rowdy, horny guys can't get enough of women who are paid to take their clothes off that don't take their clothes off.
The disc: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 surround that don't suck and no extras.
It's a mediocre telling of a scandal that bored me.
Guilty. Back to the slots with you.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated