Picking up where “Women in Trouble” left off, Sebastian Gutierrez’s second entry in his proposed “Elektra” trilogy continues the ditsy adventures of his intrepid porn-star heroine, now retired due to pregnancy. Like its predecessor, “Elektra Luxx” boasts name actors (many reprising their “Trouble” roles), strongly delineated characterizations and snappy comic timing. But despite the fine thesping seen in this innocuous piece of fluff, the whole amounts to less than the sum of its parts. In the absence of a clear marketing strategy, the comedy’s porn trappings and R rating could confuse potential auds when it bows March 11 in limited release.
Like Keith Bearden’s recent “Meet Monica Velour,” Gutierrez’s offering features an ex-porn superstar and a young fan with an encyclopedic knowledge and limitless appreciation of her work. In his continuing role as video blogger Burt Rodriguez, Joseph Gordon-Levitt cooks up an inimitable delivery that energizes his character’s overblown rhapsodizing about the charms of former porn goddess Elektra (Carla Gugino).
Whenever interest flags, multiple plotlines afford ample opportunity for cutaways. The film’s bizarre series of encounters, mainly involving oddball women, are only loosely structured around the titular blonde bombshell, now teaching a course in “How to Act Like a Porn Star in Bed” at the local community center.
Among the characters who actually figure into the narrative are Cora (Marley Shelton), the airline stewardess who performed a sex act resulting in the accidental death of Elektra’s rock-star boyfriend. Cora’s request that Elektra seduce her fiance in order to assuage her guilt not only ushers in the judgmental fiance in question (Justin Kirk), but also nets a promisingly sexy gumshoe (Timothy Olyphant). Pic sports not one but two dei ex machina, courtesy of Julianne Moore and Kathleen Quinlan. .
Some offshoot characters claim only the most tenuous ties to Elektra’s ongoing story, such as “Trouble” returnee Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki), whose explosive mixture of accidental malaprops and deliberate gross-out comments provide some of the funniest moments before she finally declares her attraction to clueless best friend Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui) in the ladies’ room. This sequence even boasts a vignette-within-a-vignette in the form of a political flashback, as Holly recounts Bambi’s mother’s heroic slaughter of a Latin American dictator.
Never coming off like walk-through cameos, all the performances here are delivered with a zest that adds enormously to the pic’s appeal. One wishes, however, that such ensemble excellence had been expended on a worthier script.
HD lensing tends toward the deliberately glossy, matching the film’s sensual but nudity-avoiding slickness.