Wednesday, February 10, 2010



WOMEN IN TROUBLE is a busy, interconnected, offensive slab of exploitation written and directed by Sebastian Guiterrez. Guiterrez knows his exploitation well. This is the man who penned the screenplay for SNAKES ON A PLANE. He has also penned other cheeseball classics like GOTHIKA, THE BIG BOUNCE, and THE EYE. With such a lame resume, one has to wonder how he secured an actress like Carla Gugino for the starring role as Electra Luxx, a pregnant pornstar. One also has to wonder how he has secured Gugino for the sequel to TROUBLE which will be called ELECTRA LUXX. Oh wait, Gugino is Guiterrez’ girlfriend in real life.

Other well-known stars round out this film’s tedious gridwork plot such as Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Berkley, but this is Gugino’s show, and she does well with it. In fact, Gugino’s acting happens to be the brightest aspect of TROUBLE. The rest of the film is more or less a loquacious, deep pondering on all things trashy with a strong Virgin Mary theme.

TROUBLE starts with a nun staring into the camera. The background is dark, and the nun is framed in what appears to be a confessional booth. She bows her head as if to go to prayer. However this is not a nun but a porn star named Electra Luxx (Carla Gugino), and she is not in a confessional but a jail cell set in the middle of a porn shoot. Before Luxx, Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki), and some guy named El Capitan (Ermahn Ospina) are able to give this jailhouse set its sexual perspective, Luxx’s phone rings. The news is that she is pregnant. A quick, stylistic visual montage expresses Luxx’s feelings on the subject which are akin to a nuclear holocaust.

Luxx later finds herself in a stalled elevator with Doris (Connie Britton) who is in the middle of some strange cellphone wranglings with her sister Addy (Caitlin Keats). These two spend the bulk of the film in varying stages of undress, conversing in this elevator. It is this point of the film where the classic multi-player template from better films like Robert Altman’s SHORT CUTS or even Lawrence Kasdan’s GRAND CANYON begins. What is at play is the fact that all of the characters that are later introduced are interconnected in some way. It is a flashy editing job, but most of these characters are sporting varying degrees of despicable, and it is hard to connect with them.

Holly Rocket is an up and coming porn star who has vomiting issues when performing cunnilingus. Holly also has a tendency to be hit by cars. She is presented as the ditzy porn-star/hooker with a heart of gold. She does know her higher math though, but this seems like more of a strange scripting fluke than an actual development of her character. Holly is sexually attracted to a “working girl” named Bambi (Emmanuel Chirqui).

Maxine McPherson (Sarah Clarke) is a therapist who’s husband Travis (Simon Baker) is sleeping with her client Addy. Addy is the sister of Doris who is stuck in an elevator with Electra Luxx. Addy runs into Holly and Bambi, and they all go to a “dyke bar” run by Rita (Rya Kihlstedt).

Meanwhile there is a subplot featuring the musician Nick Chapel (Josh Brolin with a dirty British accent). Ground zero holding all of this garbage together is Charlotte (Isabella Guiterrez) who is a thirteen year old that can see through the piles of BS all of the adults in her vicinity are shoveling at her. Charlotte also likes to pretend that she is smoking cigarettes, but there is no real explanation for her behavior other than the fact that she is definitely imbalanced.

Such a gnarled plot with minced editing and nonstop, uncomfortable introductions to characters who may or may not matter would be tolerable if there was a payoff to be had. But on top of this comes a torrent of behaviors and lifestyle-choices specifically geared to get under your skin. One example is Electra’s creepy sales pitch for a plastic vagina molded after her own that is a top seller.

Rapid-fire, quirky dialogue is one thing this film has going for it. If one were to take a second viewing of this film, the dialogue would still deliver. One-liners and witticisms are constant and rather inventive although not particularly funny.

TROUBLE is a lot of work to get through. Initially it is a serious task to stay on top of the references and sub-references in order to determine the connections between all of the characters. And TROUBLE never realizes completely where it is going. It jettisons itself off in a particular direction and then proceeds to drift and sink. At the midway-point where the script’s neurotic learning curve is mastered, there is no prize for unraveling the puzzle. The trickery afoot is that the viewer is supposed to feel some form of accomplishment because of the mental reconnaissance that this film requires. Regrettably the payoff is barren. With a sequel in the works, perhaps the payoff will come around later. At this point, WOMEN IN TROUBLE is flat, flat, flat. If you want some fun modern exploitation without a lot of pontificating moralization, stick with lighter fare like BITCH SLAP.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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