Mile Low Club

This story of a porn star’s rise to respectability could use some class of its own

I hardly know how to describe a pornographic piffle called Elektra Luxx, but the word “abominable” comes to mind. Incoherently written and ineptly directed by somebody called Sebastian Gutierrez without a single scene of professional control, edited with pinking shears, and acted by an impressive cast that seems desperate to keep their Screen Actors Guild insurance and union dues paid while searching for whatever corner of the room the camera has been placed, it’s film of the kind of amateurishness that went out of style with Andy Warhol and his Polaroid.

Luscious Carla Gugino plays the title role, a retired XXX-rated superstar from another decade, before Disney hosed down Times Square. Now she’s pregnant, broke and in trouble with the IRS, teaching sex education in a community center that shares space with a Bible studies class. Years ago, she was the celebrated girlfriend of a rock star who left behind 15 songs about her when he was accidentally killed in an airplane toilet by a flight attendant while exercising his duties as a charter member of the Mile High Club. Now the oversexed stewardess begs Elektra to seduce her shy boyfriend in exchange for the missing rock tunes, but instead this bottle-blonde bimbo mistakenly mounts a detective who is looking for the tapes himself. How Elektra gets her bra on in time to end up a rich and successful best-selling author is not worth repeating.

All of which provides endless fodder for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, hopelessly miscast as Bert Rodriguez, a sex blogger on a website dedicated to authentic sex goddesses of yesteryear “in a world increasingly known for its surgical enhancements and questionable pubic hair styles.” Elektra remains his favorite sex fantasy, and he intersperses gushing wet dreams with film clips from 2 Nymphomaniac Twin Sisters and its famous sequel, 2 Nymphomaniac Twin Sisters 2 (Wetter Than Seattle). As “the Latin world’s numero uno source for breaking sexy news,” the disastrous Gordon-Levitt, as a sort of X-rated host-narrator, looks more embarrassed and out of place than James Franco on the Academy Awards.

In the worst decision of her career, Gugino shows a lot of skin and is forced to say unspeakable lines such as, “When we’re not in love we’re miserable wishing we were in love, and when we are in love we’re miserable that love isn’t enough.” This is tragic, because this girl can really act. It’s hard to believe she’s the same actress who devastated Broadway in 2004 playing the lead in a revival of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall.

Among the other bona fide fiascos who find themselves dangerously close to cauterizing their careers you’ll find Justin Kirk, Kathleen Quinlan, Timothy Olyphant as a tough detective named Dellwood Butterworth and Vincent Kartheiser, the obnoxious junior exec from Mad Men, who prances around naked, replete with beard, long hair and a body that should be forbidden by contract to ever do nude scenes. Julianne Moore makes an unbilled guest appearance as the Virgin Mary. “Ask me anything.” “Anything?” “As long as it isn’t the capital of South Dakota.”

Despite the potential for comedy, Elektra Luxx is trash—cheesily photographed, moronically directed and lacking every pretense to social significance. My guess is it’s supposed to be some kind of lurid send-up of soft-core porn aimed at the people who like movies by the Farrelly Brothers and Judd Apatow, but it isn’t clever enough to be even momentarily diverting, and it’s about as sexy as oatmeal. I shudder to shed light on any deeper, more philosophical reason why this movie is named after a vacuum cleaner. Think about it.