March 2, 2010

Women In Trouble movie image.jpg

The first big questions that popped into my head when I heard of the movie Women in Trouble were who in the world is Sebastian Gutierrez, and how in the world did he get Carla Gugino, Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Marley Shelton to all star in his movie?

And, more amazingly, how did he get them to play a pregnant porn star, two call girls and a stewardess about to join the mile high club in an airplane toilet? Well, having watched this, I’m still not sure how he managed to pull any of it off, but I can tell you that what he came up with is a little indie comedy that borrows extremely liberally from Pedro Almodovar and Robert Altman.

Hit the jump to find out whether or not any of this works on DVD.

WOMEIN IN TROUBLE movie poster.jpgFitting the campy style of humor that Gutierrez’s movie thrives on, Women in Trouble opens with a shot of Carla Gugino in a nun’s habit, looking solemn, and it’s only as we slowly pan out that we find she is, in fact, a porn star acting out a scene. And at its best, his very dialogue-heavy flick straddles the line between funny and simply tasteless, occasionally finding time to squeeze in some genuine moments of humanity for its very talented, almost all-female cast.

On the seamier side, Gugino plays a porn star who finds out as the movie opens that she is pregnant. Adrianne Palicki, who’s best known so far for playing Tyra on Friday Night Lights, plays one of her co–stars who also dabbles in prostitution, and Emanuelle Chriqui is a fellow hooker who throws Palicki’s character work when ever she encounters jobs that requires two women.

Into this mix throw Connie Britton as a very high-strung woman who carries around a big family secret she’s keeping from her sister, who’s having an affair with the husband of her psychiatrist, and you get the idea that Gutierrez has a taste for drama, and piles it on pretty high throughout.

He attempts to weave the stories of these women together in the style of the late, great Robert Altman, but too often uses the most contrived tricks to accomplish it. It’s cringeworthy as Gugino’s and Britton’s characters come together, yes, as they get trapped in an elevator (though, on the most piggish of levels, they both look great as they strip down to their undies in an attempt to beat the heat.)

And like Pedro Almodovar, Gutierrez does have an ear for writing colorful characters for women, though you still have to wonder how much he actually values them when – many times more than once – his camera stops for several seconds on the ample decolletage of one of his assembled beauties.

Women In Trouble movie poster (3).jpgThat said, his screenplay does mine his often seamy subject matter for some genuine humor, at its best in Palicki’s character’s tendency to blurt out malapropisms (I won’t tell you exactly how it comes up, but be sure to look for for the words “immortal whore” – and try not to laugh out loud when you hear them.) He’s just as prone, however, to just plunge right through any semblance of taste, as when the same character delivers a speech about her dog and cunnilingus (I’m not making that up, and I won’t tell you any more about that to spoil it either.)

But he does manage to write some genuinely moving moments for his best two stars, Gugino and Britton, who for my money match feminine beauty with exceptional acting skills more than any other two women working today with the exception of perhaps Helen Mirren and Laura Linney. It’s in moments like this that you can see just how he managed to lure so many great actresses to take part in this madness and, amazingly, to even talk Gugino into starring in a sequel about the further adventures of her character, Electra Luxx.

As far as DVD extras go, they’re truly minimal here, consisting of only a “behind the scenes” feature that is actually only Gugino and Palicki riffing on whether or not they’re wearing panties (funny enough in itself), a teaser trailer featuring all the ladies cavorting in a swimming pool (which does at least fit the spirit of this) and “deleted scenes” that are actually just five speeches that various minor characters make to the psychiatrist (though, amusingly, that does include Elizabeth Berkeley, somehow.)

Overall, Women in Trouble is the definition of a mixed bag, but clocking in at only 84 minutes or so, it’s a genuinely diverting little movie that’s well worth a rental if you take your humor with a much larger than usual slice of beauties.

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