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All American Orgy AKA Cummings Farm (Jun 3, Showtime 11:05 EST; Netflix On Demand)

Submitted by Richard on June 3, 2011 – 7:22 pmNo Comment

“Sorry to hear it, sorry to see it
Sorry to mention I couldn’t afford to orgy
Seems such a bother, one thing, another
Tempting and teasing, just for an orgy”

——John Cale, “The Man Who Couldn’t Afford to Orgy”

Ooh la la, look at that hawt babe on the cover! I’m getting too excited! Are she and her prodigious crenshaws actually in the movie All American Orgy? Why not watch it just to find out. Really, it’ll serve you right for being a letch.  The poster art was added later, hoping to bait and switch chronic onanists who think they’re getting a new American Pie. In fact, this is closer to No Exit, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bruce Beresford’s Don’s Party, or Martin Amis’ Dead Babies.

It concerns a group of malcontents assembling at a tiny farm somewhere in the swamps for a pre-scheduled orgy, an orgy they’re more or less ready to participate in. Your hostess is the gentle, self-described “cow” Tina, full of apologies for what childbirth did to her body; she’s played by Laura Silverman of The Sarah Silverman Program. (Chances are if you love that Silverman sisters kind of humor, you’ll love this).  Scriptwriter Ted Beck plays Todd, Tina’s lecherous spouse and the orgy’s ringmaster; think Rupert Pupkin with a boner.

Despite his spinelessness, the quaking, quacking nice Jewish boy Alan (Adam Busch) turns out to be as close to a moral center as the film gets. More raring to go for a night of decadence is Alan’s live-in, the beaky and cantankerous Yasmine (Yasmine Kittles) who keeps the negative energy flowing. Lee Harvey Oswald-look alike Gordon (Jordan Kessler) is a pitiful drunk squiring the sweet-faced, bawdy blonde (Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, terrific in a morosely pretty, Alice Faye kind of way); she is, naturally, the girl Alan is really sweet on.

Gordon lowers the already low bar of the evening by getting in touch with his drug connection (Edrick Browne), promising him girl-meat in exchange for pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, the awful Todd tries to push the action: he starts with the most pushable member of the household, his tragically pliant wife.

Putting a bunch of people in a room all night, making a movie about them, and making it so that you don’t want to kill them is no easy task. This obviously well-rehearsed troup gets some softness from the lake-light around the shambly cottage where they’re stuck; that lambency gives the evening’s disaster something of the feel of a midsummer night’s orgy.

It’s clearly shot in Louisiana for the financing, a commercial compromise that’s hard to ignore. Despite the way the lake diffuses things, this location has a heavy killer-hillbilly vibe, which might have seemed to compliment the aggro material but also gives an undertone of dread that becomes slightly distracting. Director Andrew Drazek is dealing with loads of bad vibes, true. And he’s dealt with the location, using it for comedy (him or his set decorator added one local signifier, a cryptic “Coon Ass” sign for the living room wall). Inevitably, the rest of the cast seems like hip Los Angeles transplants inexplicably in the bayous.

Laura Silverman seems the most connected person to the landscape. Without working a showoff accent or anything, she can play a hick. While Silverman is often a long-sufferer on her sister’s show, her vision here of a hapless wife goes the distance from hideo-comic to sardonically tragic. The most risky, potentially deal-breaking moments of All American Orgy are all hers to play, and she plays these moments well.

That notable difference between the location and the characters might throw some of the viewers. Hindsight’s golden, but perhaps this should have been film somewhere deep in the vastest reaches of the San Gabriel Valley, so far out in the endless suburbs that walking away was not an option.  And there are going to be the other viewers who’ll feel cheated by the above-mentioned bait and switch.

But this is a surprisingly tough comedy. Despite the awful way these characters treat each other, All American Orgy has more heart and soul to it than the common rutty comedy (say, The Hangover II for instance).  Loads of low-budget filmmakers would love to get back to the 1970s aesthetic. This movie seems less like an emulation of old Rafelson movies and more like the work of a talent with flexibility, intelligence and a dirty sense of humor.

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