Justin Kelly’s has all the charm of gay porn — if you find that charming. It tells the tale of a bizarre and grisly real-life murder, replete with sex, greed, lust, betrayal, and stupidity.
In January of 2007, firefighters responding to a blaze in a suburb of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, found porn mogul Bryan Kocis dead on a couch. But it wasn’t the fire that did him in. His throat had been slit and his body stabbed 28 times. The perps turned out to be a couple of pornworld rivals, pursuing the services of a star Kocis had under contract.
Kocis, here called Stephen, is played with a wistful sleaziness by Christian Slater, who provides the best work in the movie. When young Sean Paul Lockhart (former Disney star Garrett Clayton of
arrives on Stephen’s doorstep to break into the business, it’s love at first sight. Sean, who claims to be eighteen — the legal age for this kind of work — has chosen the nom-de-porn of Brent Corrigan. “How’d you come up with the name?” wonders an admiring Stephen. “I looked through the phone book,” the boy snickers.
Brent Corrigan is a natural, and soon he’s a cash cow for Stephen’s Cobra Films. But there’s trouble in paradise: Brent begins to suspect he’s not getting his share of the cash, and another gay porn outfit has begun to covet the young superstar. Viper Boyz consists of just producer Joe ( James Franco) and his sole talent, the dimwitted Harlow (Keegan Allen), who realize that pairing Harlow with Brent would get the cash register jingling and go a long way toward underwriting Joe and Harlow’s beyond-their-means lifestyle.
There’s a fly in the K-Y Jelly, however. Though Sean has broken with his Svengali and is ready to pursue new opportunities in the business, it turns out that Stephen has locked down the rights to the name Brent Corrigan — and without the marquee value of that name recognition, Sean is just another pretty, shall we say, face.
Franco, who seems to revel in teasing his fans about his sexuality, leers and struts and touches bottom — literally and figuratively — as the jealous, manipulating impresario of the low-rent Viper Boyz. Clayton and Allen are believable as bodies for hire. Molly Ringwald and Alicia Silverstone turn up as family members, presumably because they owed someone a favor.
Kelly delivers on violence, hedges on the sex, and revives some decade-old tabloid headlines, but he never finds a way to inject enough whimsy to lift above its tawdry material.
— Jonathan Richards