Review by Hank Fontaine
Before I even started to watch Exquisite Films’ Rezervoir Doggs: An Exquisite Films Parody (2011), I found myself wildly curious – how did they intend to pull this off?
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews (please tell me you have, I could really use some positive reinforcement), you know that I’ve sorta done a 180 on my feelings toward porn parodies. Initially, I was dead set against them, decrying what I assumed to be lazy, hackneyed work. I won’t get into all the stuff I’ve already said but if you are just dying to know my innermost feelings on the subject, go here (it would really mean a lot to me). But if you prefer not to, just know that I didn’t care much for porn parodies, both in concept and execution.
Then I watched New Sensations’ Big Lebowski: A XXX Parody (2010), and surprisingly, my attitude shifted. I say “surprisingly” because I’m a bigger fan of that parody’s source material than any of the other movies I had reviewed to date (did I tell you that I have some earlier reviews that you are free to read if you choose to do so?). My expectation was that, if I liked the original so much and disliked the idea of the parody even more, I was obviously going to hate what they did to “my movie.”
But I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong! I really enjoyed the playfulness with which New Sensations handled The Big Lebowski XXX. It was an example of potential realized.
So anyway, I had similar fears going into Rezervoir Doggs, also because of my fondness for the source material. Let’s take a moment to reflect…
Think for a second about the cast of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). Tarantino notwithstanding, the cast really is a venerable “who’s who” of Hollywood heavyweights with outstanding acting chops. (Tarantino makes up for the fact that he is a terrible actor in other ways)
There are some insanely graphic scenes that Reservoir Dogs is known for (can you hear Stealer’s Wheel without thinking about that ear scene?), but the movie really is predominantly character and dialogue driven. The opening diner scene? Brilliant.
Now I won’t go on gushing about QT and his films (this isn’t the place for that), but I will point out the obvious – adult performers aren’t generally known for their acting prowess, and acting prowess is one thing that is needed to pull of a Tarantino film (parody or otherwise). So what do you do when you have source material that, although I won’t call it “perfect,” hits high on so many levels reenacted by… well, porn stars?
Just know that I am cognizant of these things going in. I hold my breath…
…and I wonder: will Ms. Pink (Kimberly Kane and yes, for this production, the main characters are women) present a compelling argument as to why she won’t play a game of “just the tip”? #rimshot
We shall see.
par-o-dy [par-uh-dee] noun a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature, writing or other work.
Now I hate to be the one to point out the obvious, but if you judge by the criteria set forth in the previous definition, Rezervoir Doggs is not a parody. I also hate to use another movie to judge a completely unrelated one, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
There is a fundamental difference between New Sensations’ parody of The Big Lebowski (1998) and Exquisite’s remaking of Reservoir Dogs (1992). The former never takes itself too seriously and, although they stay true to the original story, they change it enough to keep it interesting. With the latter, Exquisite decided to stay dead-on exact with the story. Beyond the gender of the main characters, we have the exact same format: vignettes showing how each respective “Ms.” came to be involved with the jewel heist that frames the film overall. [obviously (or not) the vignettes had to be altered to allow the characters to have sex]
From even opening title sequencing, it’s very clear that the intent is to stick as close as possible to QT’s source material. Cut to the aforementioned diner, with the group sitting around a table. Ms. Brown is giving her dissertation on the true meaning of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Nice, but without the cleverly done Tarantino direction and camera work and with actors that aren’t nearly as talented, director General Stone does nothing more than present a lesser version of the original movie.
Whatsmore, the actors from the original are very distinctive and unique. Their work is not easy to replicate because they themselves are not easy to reproduce. Thus, although there are a large number of people that attempt to do a Harvey Keitel and/or a Harvey Keitel as Mr. White impersonation, very few can pull it off. And as talented as Andy San Dimas is, she is not one of these chosen few.
I ended up getting a bit too hung up on the fact that the Rezervoir Doggs characters should be Keitel, Tarantino, Buscemi, Roth, Madsen, etc. The dialogue is nearly identical, with no parodying whatsoever.
Which brings me to… you can call your movie anything you damned well please – an homage if you like, or even perhaps an adaptation – but I do not consider what was done here to be a parody at all. In fact, I’m not even sure what to expect from “parody” porn anymore. Anyways.
The dialogue and the film’s premise were nearly identical and the characters, thus, should be played in a certain way… but they just weren’t, and my frustration grew throughout the entire opening scene.
This would prove to be the case throughout the entirety of the movie. Watch this if you don’t believe me.
Within the context of the very first flashback introduction, we see Andy San Dimas fucking Tom Byron. I couldn’t get beyond the fact that, in a weird way, this was like Lawrence Tierney (Joe Cabot from the original Reservoir Dogs) fucking Harvey Keitel.
Needless to say, this is somewhat distracting and unsettling to me. The fact that I know what is coming up next made it worse.
I will preface this by saying that I am supremely happy that they did not try to get actresses that most closely resemble the original actors. If you aren’t familiar, Mr. Pink is played by Steve Buscemi. Ms. Pink is played by Kimberly Kane, and she is far more attractive than Steve Buscemi.
For what it’s worth, Kane does a very good job portraying the tenor of Buscemi’s Pink without trying to play it as Buscemi. She is one of two bright spots of this entire film for me.
Ms. Orange is the other bright spot in Rezervoir Doggs as far as I’m concerned. Chanel Preston, like San Dimas, doesn’t attempt to play the original actor’s version of a respective character; rather, she plays the character herself.
Oh yeah, and there’s sex in this movie.
Here’s the deal: the sex throughout this movie is more or less formulaic and predictable. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not fantastic. With the exception of the all-girl 3-way for the Ms. Blue and Ms. Brown scene, it’s all very standard boy-girl oral to missionary to reverse cowgirl to doggie etc etc. They’re pretty much interchangeable.
Herein lies one of my most fundamental problems with this movie.
As the director, Stone missed out on an opportunity to re-imagine what Tarantino might do with a pornographic movie. By making the sex fairly porno-commonplace, even pedestrian at points, what you end up with is a community theatre production of a Tarantino story intermixed with some mediocre sex – Rezervoir Doggs.
Why not go out on a limb? Every other moment of the movie is pre-scripted. Stone should have take the opportunity to mix in some of his own dialogue, play with camera angles, maybe find a way to bring the sex into the story. At least try to be original within the confines of the unoriginal premise of an homage.
Excuse me… parody.
In imagining (verses formulaically inserting) the sex, perhaps Exquisite/Stone could have done more in terms of reimagining, and thus parodying, the whole of Reservoir Dogs. Just a little creativity and maybe they could have “Tarantinoed” a decent retelling.
(yes I realize that I just used Tarantino as a verb, but we all know that means to tell the story in reverse… right?).
Perhaps the problem isn’t that Rezervoir Doggs was not done well, but rather that Reservoir Dogs isn’t a movie that should be converted into porn in the first place? I had really hoped to like this movie, and maybe my expectations were too high going in. I can respect the challenge of taking on an iconic movie, but maybe this one would have been better left alone.
This whole thing has put me in a bit of a kerfuffle.
Recommended for: It’s at this point I am supposed to tell you who should watch this movie, and for the first time ever I can confidently say – I simply don’t know. If you are a Tarantino fan, this movie will most likely bother you. If you are a fan of story-based porn, I suppose this might be a good choice. (can you tell that I might be reaching in an attempt to find promise in a movie where I don’t really think there is any?)
Girls: Kimberly Kane, Andy San Dimas, Chanel Preston, Lizzy Borden, Raylene, Amber Rayne, Tara Lynn Foxx, and Zoe Holloway
Guys: Tom Byron, Dale DaBone, Anthony Rosano, and Xander Corvus
Directed by General Stone for Exquisite Films.
Rezervoir Doggs: An Exquisite Films Parody (2011) was released in May, 2011. Buy yours here.
BTS: There are several features on the BTS disc. This is the part of the review where I tell you that, if not for a requirement to do so, I would not be watching the Behind the Scenes portion of this movie. There’s a mini-feature about Ms. Blonde’s rendition of the famous ear scene. This wouldn’t be quite as bad if I didn’t absolutely detest the actress that plays Ms. Blonde (Lizzy Borden). The rest of it is all pretty typical fare. Nothing you haven’t seen before.
– Hank Fontaine
Hank Fontaine – Hank Fontaine is an extreme swinger, cold cereal killer, part-time public nudist/exhibitionist, and burgeoning writer trapped in the mind and body of a near illiterate. He is not a porn aficionado, nor is he a porn connoisseur… just a married guy in his early forties who likes to get his freak on. If these things interest you, maybe y’all can be friends? Follow Hank on Twitter at @HankFontaineEsq and/or email him here.