'Porn in the Hood'

Three punks from the projects try to make it big in the adult film biz in "Porn in the Hood," a French laffer inspired by the characters in thesp-scribe-helmer Franck Gastambide's popular Web series.

Three punks from the projects try to make it big in the adult film biz in “Porn in the Hood,” a French laffer inspired by the characters in thesp-scribe-helmer Franck Gastambide’s popular Web series. Uneven grossout comedy tries but never quite succeeds in repackaging childish merriment as transgressive humor, though it’s still refreshing to see the Gallic banlieues portrayed in a self-deprecating way. Gastambide’s first feature had a decent but not record-breaking mid-July opening, while some Euro distribs, no doubt hoping for the next “Intouchables,” have added this to their slate, though “Porn” lacks that pic’s powerhouse acting and polish.

The defining characteristic of “Porn” is its rapid-fire dialogue, almost entirely in the typical French slang of the banlieues, featuring countless inverted words, including “kaira” (the film’s French title) for “racaille,” which means something like “hoodlums from the projects.”

Melun, a ‘burb on the eastern side of Paris, is home to Algerian karaoke fan and aspiring singer Abdelkrim (Medi Sadoun); smut addict and soccer-loving little person Momo (Jib Pocthier); and Mousten (Gastambide), the straightest (and, frankly, least interesting) arrow of the bunch. They hang out in their hood or in Momo’s dingy apartment, which is stacked to the rafters with porn.

A casting call spotted in an X-rated magazine leads them to the production office of a seedy porn producer (Belgian actor Francois Damiens, in the best of countless cameos), who asks for an audition tape by Monday, leaving them the weekend to find a girl or two willing to have sex with them — oncamera.

Of course, the three big-mouthed losers talk so much about sex, there’s practically no time left to actually have any. Their picaresque journey to get someone of the opposite gender to even look in their direction is fraught with peril, disappointment, and scenes that are only infrequently funny and often not more than perfunctorily connected.

The humor is incredibly immature, trying to push the envelope via strange fetishes, female ejaculation, animals (living and dead), and a costume ball-cum-orgy. But most of the material is wildly underdeveloped, and rather than feeling transgressive, the film often seems like an infantile, ADD-fueled take on 18-plus material (though in France, the film has been rated suitable for all ages).

While Gastambide can be commended to some extent as a banlieue filmmaker making fun — or trying to, anyway — of the many stereotypes that exist about such people, his film is populated with walking cliches and his jokes are unaccompanied by deeper insight. Not once, for example, is it touched upon how these youngsters, who come from a Muslim background, feel about the fact that the porn they consume so voraciously and even want to star in is considered haraam, or sinful, by Islamic standards.

The central threesome has OK chemistry, but the actors look older than the characters supposedly are (the film is not, after all, about single, sex-craved men in their early 40s). Bit parts for celebs abound in the often sketchlike situations, with appearances by the likes of Eric Cantona (as a soccer coach, natch), banlieue thesp Ramzy, porn maestro Rocco Siffredi and, in the least funny sequence, comedian Elie Semoun as himself.

Lensing and soundtrack add some pizzazz to an otherwise low-key tech package.

Porn in the Hood

France

Production

A Gaumont release and presentation of a Save Ferris, Mandarin Cinema, Gaumont production, in association with Canal Plus, Cine Plus. (International sales: Gaumont, Paris.) Produced by Jean-Charles Felli, Christophe Tomas, Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer. Directed, written by Franck Gastambide.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Antoine Marteau; editor, Veronique Parnet; music, DJ Cut Killer, Herve Rakotofiringa, Eric Neveux; production designer, Laurent Tesseyre; costume designer, Sandra Berrebi; sound (Dolby Digital), Francois Maurel, David Rit, Eric Bizet, Cedric Lionnet; assistant director, David Diane; casting, Gigi Akoka. Reviewed at Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, July 14, 2012. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Medi Sadoun, Franck Gastambide, Jib Pocthier, Ramzy, Alice Belaidi, Pom Klementieff, Demon One, Ismael Sy Savane, Francois Damiens, Eric Cantona, Elie Semoun, Francois Levental, Alex Lutz Armelle, Katsuni, Rocco Siffredi. (French, Arabic dialogue)
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