With Kevin Smith’s latest film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, hitting theaters this Friday, we at /Film thought it might be a good time to take a look back at the history of fictional pornographic movies. Typically, unless the movie you are watching is itself a porno, porn plays a minor role in films, skirting around the edges and marginally infusing the proceedings with a dollop of sexuality. However, the following pornos have all in some way wormed their way into becoming major plot devices for (mostly) memorable movies. Here are five of the most infamous fake pornos, as seen in films:
As Seen In: The Big Lebowski
Remember when Tara Reid was still considered sexy? Neither do I, but apparently at some indeterminate time in the past, Reid was seen as hot enough to be tapped for the role of trophy wife and porn star in the Coen brothers hilarious stoner comedy, The Big Lebowski. In one of the pivotal scenes in this film’s labyrinthine plot, Maude Lebowski and the Dude come to the realization that the Nihilists aren’t actually involved in kidnapping Reid’s character, Bunny, at all!
This porno begins to answers questions we never even wanted to ask. What does Tara Reid look like in a porn film? What are the physical mechanics of efficient German lovemaking? Who would possibly want to see Peter Stormare naked? Either way, Julianne Moore’s brilliant deadpan commentary make this porno one for the books.
Porno: Tommy and Lizzy’s Untitled Sex Tape
As Seen In: Trainspotting
While millions of dollars have been spent on campaigns like JUST SAY NO, films like Requiem for a Dream and Trainspotting demonstrate that the best way to keep kids off drugs isn’t to lecture them; it’s to show them the horrifying consequences of a life spent indulging in mind-altering substances.
But Trainspotting also brings with it a bonus message. Recall the character of Tommy, who at the beginning of the film had a pretty great life. Not only was he having regular sex with Lizzy, played by Pauline Lynch, but she was kinky enough that she allowed their lovemaking to be taped. That existence shattered into pieces when Renton (Ewan McGregor) and friends decided to take the tape switch it for a recording of a soccer match, leading Tommy to conclude he accidentally returned the sex tape to the video store. Naturally, Lizzy was pretty damn upset at the prospect of her unmentionables being splayed across countless screens, and broke up with Tommy shortly afterwards:
Flash forward to later in the film. Tommy’s depression leads him to heroin and his life is destroyed. We see him despondent, living in a filthy, godforsaken apartment. So desperate is his situation that he dies before the movie is over. The message? Never, ever film yourself having sex…and leave the tape lying around.
Porno: The Collected Works of Danielle
As Seen In: The Girl Next Door
Although most people know Elisha Cuthbert as “That annoying chick who repeatedly ruins Jack Bauer’s life,” less of you might recall that she was actually pretty damn irresistable as a young porn star in “The Girl Next Door.”
The film, starring a young Emile Hirsch and a sleazy Timothy Olyphant, actually had its share of laughs and had a sweet message at its core. Hirsch’s Matthew Kidman is a senior headed for Georgetown who has never done anything exciting with his life. So when a smoking hot, wild and crazy girl moves in next door, Matthew becomes completely infatuated with her. But when his friend shows him a tape of Danielle’s latest gig, it upends Matthew’s whole world.
When Danielle learns of Matthew’s discovery, she flees back to the comfortable world of adult entertainment. But Matthew, believing she’s the best thing that ever happens to him, goes on a quest to win her back. The result is a touching and funny love story that tries to reach beyond the normal conventions of the teen romance genre.
Ultimately, “The Girl Next Door” is about high school sexual awakening, and it succeeds at its purpose of evoking that wonderful period of senior slump where you were still attending classes but cared so little that you could take your friends on an overnight drive to the Las Vegas Adult Film Convention. The movie also gets bonus points for featuring a nearly unrecognizable Paul Dano as a moderately repressed nerd, who would later turn spectacularly to faith in P.T. Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood.”
As Seen In: Orgazmo
Only from the twisted mind of Matt Stone and Trey Parker could this film originate, chronicling the story of a Mormon forced to star in a porn film to earn enough money so he could marry his sweetheart. Parker starred as Joe Young, who in turn played the titular character in porn films, wielding the Orgazmorator to deliver climactic pleasure to men, women, and occasionally even octogenarians. When his fiancée is kidnapped by the filmmakers in an effort to force Joe to do more films, Joe must use an actual real-life Orgazmorator (???) to save his beloved and stop the evil pornographers once and for all.
Why anyone has not yet invented such a device is beyond me, but I imagine the market is gargantuan.
Despite its bawdiness, the film was relatively tame but still earned an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, who continue to prove themselves unable to make anything approaching a reasonable decision. The film was an amusing romp, with an outlandish title and concept that have come to characterize the pair’s work in the film industry. Definitely worth a watch for those who are interested in Parker and Stone’s limited work with real-life actors.
Porno: Angels Live In My Town
As Seen In: Boogie Nights
P.T. Anderson’s audacious sophomore film still holds up to this day and is a certain must-watch for anyone who has lost faith that Mark Wahlberg can still act. The story of a young Johnny Wadd analogue who rises through the ranks to become one of the country’s hottest porn stars had a fantastic ensemble cast and ran the complete gamut of emotions, by turns moving you and making you laugh with its quirky characterizations.
Among the latter are the unstoppable duo of Chest Rockwell and Brock Landers, the personae that porn stars Dirk Diggler and Reed Rothchild adopt for themselves in a wildly successful series of action porn films:
While the clips you see of these movies are fantastically campy, the later scene with Ricky Jay and Burt Reynolds in the editing room really sets this fake porno apart. When Reynolds firmly intones “This is the best work we’ve ever done,” he makes you believe it. And there is simultaneously joy and tragedy in that fact.