'Flexing with Monty'

Definite curiosity, though its muddled allegory and lack of a clear point grow quickly tiresome.

“Flexing With Monty” has had a curious history — shooting commenced in 1994, then was complicated by budgetary woes and the deaths of a leading actor and producer before assembly wrapped quite recently. Writer-director John Albo’s first (and to date only) feature is a definite curiosity, though its muddled allegory and lack of a clear point grow quickly tiresome. Heavy on talk and thin on plot, the stagy piece seems designed mostly as a showcase for the physique of ex-boxer Trevor Goddard. Simultaneous with its DVD release, the pic is pursuing midnight screenings.

Monty (Goddard, who later won some fame as a villain in the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie and an ongoing role on TV’s “JAG,” before dying of an apparently accidental drug overdose in 2003) and little bro Bertin (Rudi Davis) live together, their parents long dead. Though Monty is a phys-ed teacher, and brainiac “weakling” Bertin a biology grad student (though Davis is scarcely less ripped), the pic never leaves their soundstage-like lair, which consists primarily of one big room in which big bro endlessly exercises and poses amid gym equipment that includes a sort of man-sized hamster wheel.

Other than bickering — Monty from the viewpoint of the testosterone-induced bully, Bertin from a sensitive “intellectual” one — almost nothing happens. Albo stokes the homoerotic frisson between them, though any enjoyment auds might get from that is spoiled by an offensive sequence in which Monty, as an ostensible hustler, visits a drug-addled gay man (Mitch Hara). A female prostitute (Michelle Zeitlin) gets warmer treatment, while Sally Kirkland shows up as a nun with a hidden identity(not that this bars her from considerable silicone-enhanced nudity). Some of this is supposed to be funny, but it’s all pretty sophomoric.

There’s much florid talk about religion and myth, as well as vague satirical jabs at American machismo. Such blather, plus the bluntly archetypal characters, gratuitous nudity and claustrophobic feel make “Flexing With Monty” feel like an Off Off Broadway experimental play circa 1969 — the kind Kirkland once did. Just why it needed to be a movie, or who it was intended for, are questions more intriguing than anything actually onscreen. In the DVD’s interview seg, Albo offers no explanation deeper than “It’s a goof,” which is a fair and charitable description.

Tech aspects are OK within the pic’s very limited scope.

Flexing With Monty

Production

A Dagger Prods. release of a Quarter Moon Films production. Produced by John Albo, William E. Conroy, James Bird, Michael Shaverdian. Executive producer, Conroy. Directed, written by John Albo.

Crew

Camera (color), Thomas F. Denove; editor, Barry Zetlin; music, Miriam Cutler; production designer, Albert Locatelli; costume designer, Judi Jensen; set decorator, Eva De Weerth; sound, James R. Einolf, Larry Tozzi; Brad Blake; assistant director, Bill Rice; casting, Donald Paul Pemrick. Reviewed on dvd, San Francisco, Feb. 19, 2010. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Sally Kirkland, Trevor Goddard, Rudi Davis, Michelle Zeitlin, Mitch Hara, Melinda Peterson, Manny Gates, Gwen Van Dam.

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