Have you ever watched a movie, thought to yourself “hey, that wasn’t bad” and then, not even an hour later, forgotten most of what you’ve seen? Elektra Luxx is one of those movies. And it’s a shame because the performances and characters are actually more than decent. Unfortunately, the story itself isn’t very interesting and, when all the parts come together, it just feels off.
A sequel to 2009’s Women in Trouble (also written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez), Elektra Luxx takes place a few months after the events of the first film and features three different plots. The main story follows the title character, played once again by Carla Gugino, who has retired from the porn industry after finding out she was pregnant with now-deceased rock star Nick Chapel’s (played in the first by Josh Brolin, complete with lame British accent) baby. Instead of being a porn star, she is now teaching everyday women to be porn stars at a community center in her class “How to Be a Porn Star in Bed,” which I’m sure their husbands approve of.
After one of her classes, she is approached by Cora (Marley Shelton), the flight attendant in the first film who was the last to see Chapel alive. Cora has in her possession the lyrics to what would have been Chapel’s next album. It turns out that all the songs were about Elektra. Cora says she will give her the folder (no one uses flash drives in 2010?) if she seduces Cora’s husband and sleeps with him in order to wash away her guilt over cheating on him. Through some shenanigans, Elektra also ends up running into a private detective hired by the band to find those lyrics, played by Timothy Olyphant. And that’s just the BEGINNING of her story.
While that goes on, Elektra Luxx also focuses on porn stars/hookers to the rich Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and the dim-witted but lovable Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki, soon to be the next Wonder Woman). The two are vacationing in Mexico and while Bambi wants to do their usual thing of seducing rich guys, Holly just wants Bambi and fights to get the guts to tell her how she feels. And on top of those two stories, we also get the continuing saga of sex blogger Bert Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is distraught over Elektra’s retirement and struggles to make it through the experience while also dealing with his wannabe pinup little sister and a potential love interest.
That’s a lot of story to balance in a 90-minute movie, rendering Elektra Luxx as merely passable when it could be so much more; the movie will shift from story to story at random intervals, taking the viewer out of one tale and into another too abruptly to elicit any real emotion or narrative interest. Elektra’s thread is the heart of the movie obviously, and Gugino knocks it out of the park as the both vulnerable and cocksure ex-porn star, but the situations that happen to, and around, her are over-the-top to the point of annoying, especially when it comes to a bizarre and wholly unnecessary cameo by Julianne Moore. It’s frustrating because Gugino is so good in the role, and Guitierrez doesn’t let her breath.
Holly and Bambi’s story is sweet, but nothing really happens. Holly pines for Bambi secretly and blah blah blah. I’m pretty sure you can guess how it works if you’ve watched a romantic comedy before. And once again, it’s a shame that the story is so dull because the two ladies are great, especially Palicki who makes her dumb porn star character Holly ridiculously adorable. I’ve never been a fan of her work, few people who’ve seen Legion would be, but she shows something here.
The highlight of the three stories has to be Bert Rodriguez. Though his part is the smallest, it’s the most lively and entertaining, and all the credit has to go to Gordon-Levitt. The guy is just fun to watch in everything and he continues it here; even though he’s barely featured, he has the funniest moments and the best lines and it almost feels like his parts have been inserted to break up the dullness of the other two on purpose, like the people involved knew they were going to lose the audience if they didn’t. Levitt can do no wrong at this point.
All in all, Elektra Luxx is a bit of a chaotic mess that fails because of exactly that. There’s too much going on too much of the time. There are three stories to pay attention to here, and without a good chunk of time to devote to all three in a real meaningful way, we seem to only get the duller parts. It’s a real shame too, because the cast is top notch and the characters are actually really likable. They would just be more likable if they had their own movies to shine in instead of having to fight for screen time.
Elektra Luxx hits theaters March 11th, 2011.
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