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There’s no saving campy ‘Women In Trouble’

The attractive cast, notably the earthy Carla Gugino, tries hard to invest the one-note characters with a degree of humanity, but are betrayed at every turn by the thin material.
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Women In Trouble” follows a day in the life of 10 different females, united by their uncanny ability to look fabulous in their underwear while in the throes of emotional crisis. Imagine Russ Meyer directing a Lifetime movie and you get an inkling of the film’s high camp, though that still might not prepare you for a full 90-minute session with writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez’s Victoria’s Secret School of Philosophy.

Gutierrez models “Women In Trouble” on Pedro Almodovar’s more flamboyant comedies, going so far as to thank the Spanish filmmaker in the closing credits. It’s one thing, though, for the Oscar-winning Almodovar to mix lewd humor with soapy scenarios and quite another for the writer of “Snakes On a Plane,” “The Big Bounce” and “Gothika” to make the attempt. We’d understand if Almodovar doesn’t appreciate the shout-out.

The occupations of the movie’s “women in trouble” betray the conceit — there’s a porn star, a flight attendant, a prostitute, another porn star, a masseuse, another prostitute and well you get the idea. Gutierrez wants us to understand that sexy women have hopes and dreams and feelings, too, though his attempts to meld tender moments with raunchy comedy wind up being funny for all the wrong reasons.

The movie establishes its uninhibited idiocy from the outset. Porn star legend Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino) and industry up-and-comer Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki) are about to film a sex scene when Elektra receives a cell phone call from her doctor. She’s pregnant!

Elektra peels out of the parking lot, backs into Holly (she’s OK because, after all, she’s just a dumb blond) and drives to her doctor’s office where she gets trapped in an elevator with Doris (Connie Britton), a high-strung careerist with a dark past. Being locked in close confines for a lengthy period encourages the women to share sob stories while stripping down to their underwear because you know it’s stuffy in there.

It’s the first of the movie’s many intersecting, soft-core plot threads. There’s also the star-struck stewardess (Marley Shelton) battling turbulence in her bid to join the Mile High Club with a drug-addled rock star (Josh Brolin), a precocious adolescent (Isabella Gutierrez, the filmmaker’s daughter) who claims she can see the future and a freaky story about how a dog named Ringo triggered childhood abuse and Holly’s inability to perform a certain sex act.

The attractive cast, notably the earthy Gugino, tries hard to invest the one-note characters with a degree of humanity, but are betrayed at every turn by the thin material. The campy tone negates Gutierrez’s ill-advised attempts at pathos, and the humor usually falls flat. Quentin Tarantino could make a five-minute riff on songwriting drummers work; Gutierrez just reminds you how much you hate the Eagles.