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DVD Review: Slippery Slope

SLOPE 2

“Slippery Slope” recalls Trey Parker’s 1998 farce “Orgazmo,” only without the comedic vigor and frat house entertainment value. Instead, “Slope” is a wacky comedy with a foundation in intellect, asking interesting questions of feminism between scenes of thrusting and Benny Hill-style undercranking (no joke, it's really in here). The mix is uncomfortable, but not completely unpleasant.

Gillian (Kelly Hutchinson, “Catch Me If You Can”) is a gender idealist, hoping to expose the evils of the world in her documentary film, “Feminism for Dummies.” When the doc is accepted at Cannes, she’s floored to find $50,000 in lab fees just to reclaim her one and only print. Convinced by a smut peddler (Laila Robbins) to helm a series of sophisticated porn parodies, Gillian reluctantly accepts the offer, forced to hide the work from her conservative husband (Jim True-Frost, “Singles”). When Gillian’s artistic efforts begin to craft some subversive dirty movies, the creative effect changes everyone on the set for the better, while the director wants to keep her profile as low as it can possibly go.

While not an academic discourse on the corrupting habits of pornography, “Slippery Slope” has a tad more brains about it than the film itself would suggest. It posits a few interesting ideas on the destructive confines of sexual insecurity, while sending up the business of porn with a nicely conceived tale that eventually wears out its welcome, but gets in a few jabs worth noting along the way.

Perhaps the trouble with “Slope” is that it just isn’t funny. Writer/director Sarah Schenck seems like a tremendously intelligent person, but her take on a low-brow, smutty slapstick comedy is forced and unfulfilling. She’s not helped by the low-budget reality of the film, which reveals itself in iffy dialogue recording and a cringing lack of polish that occasionally favors the silliness. The energy is there, but the production limitations hold the filmmaker back, resulting in a handful of dud sequences that aim to revive past bawdy screen sensations, only to fall flat here.

What I did enjoy about “Slope” was Hutchinson’s performance. A consistent actress, Hutchinson creates a believable human character out of Gillian, riding the line between goofy and earnest without tripping over herself. She has to compete with some serious displays of nudity and Schenck’s comedic misfires, but the performance develops agreeably within the running time, lighting up the second half, where Gillian’s staunch professionalism infects her cast of porn stars, challenging her own ideas of how a sex worker should act when the camera is turned off.

THE DVD

Visual:

Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1 aspect ratio), “Slippery Slope” is a low-budget production with lots of film grain and limited resources. The DVD preserves this aesthetic well, letting the gritty flavors live in the transfer. Black levels are not strongly reproduced, but the color palette is acceptable and detail remains.

Audio:

The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix isn’t impressive, but that’s more the fault of the budget than the film itself. Dialogue and the soundtrack are separated acceptably, with only a few of the songs boosting the impact of the mix. A 2.0 mix is also available.

Subtitles:

English and French subtitles are included.

Extras:

A feature-length audio commentary with writer/director Sarah Schenck reveals a filmmaker completely prepared for the process of discussing her movie. Schenck is a tireless speaker, opening up about her financing woes, extensive porn research, artistic aspirations, and her dealings with irritated crew members. Seriously, she’s a wonderful guide for this oddball film.

However, the DVD places Schenck’s commentary in the left channel only, which leaves the chat impossible to listen to if one doesn’t have access to speaker balance knob.

“Deleted Scenes” (21:40) showcase an alternate opening title sequence (the one in the finished film is far more evocative), further character development, offer more slapstick, and include a few alternate endings.

“Behind the Scenes” (12:27) is a fawning featurette captured with a commercial-grade video camera, leading to some unpleasant sound and video issues. Interviews with cast and crew offer some depth on the feminism fringes of the movie, but it’s mostly a “what a great movie!” promotional endeavor.

FINAL THOUGHTS

“Slippery Slope” reaches wildly for a boisterous ending to conclude on, but it only results in needless chaos. The picture is infinitely more engrossing when it shows patience with the characters, exploring their perspective in this wild arrangement of desperation. Once the elements slip into stillborn joke mode, the results just don’t inspire like a great porn comedy should.


SLIPPERY SLOPE

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