Deep in the Valley
They say that variety is the spice of life. In a continuing attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate each Wednesday review to the stranger side of cinema, the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or in condemnation of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, and the flaky, I present the third installment of Wednesday Weirdness.
Today’s movie isn’t necessarily so weird as the others, but it’s almost certainly something I’d never normally watch, and definitely not something that I’d never publicly admit to having watched, but alas these are the trials of being the One Movie Each Day blogger. Thus I present my thoughts on the 2009 goofy pseudo-sexploitation comedy, Deep in the Valley.
Here’s how Wikipedia sums up the plot.
Lester Watts (Chris Pratt) works at a liquor store, happily selling alcohol to minors while spending his spare money on his porno collection. His best friend since third grade, Carl (Brendan Hines) works a corporate job at his British fiancee’s family’s company. He wants to leave the job and work somewhere else, but she angrily tells him he has no choice and that he must stay; it is clear that she is completely in control of the relationship.
That night, the two friends have a beer when a delivery comes in the form of a vintage porn viewer machine which plays the films of Diamond Jim (Christopher McDonald). They step inside and it transports them to a land where everyone acts like they are in a porno movie. The police arrest them, led by Rod Cannon (Scott Caan) but they escape and are hidden from the police by Bambi Cummings (Rachel Specter) at her sorority house, Tri-Pi.
From there the film proceeds and actually develops a formulaic, yet somehow unexpected plot. This movie is aiming for a certain level of stupidity, and it hits it dead on. That said, it is less stupid than I thought it’d would be. In fact, it’s even a little bit clever. It’s essentially a parody of the world as portrayed in pornography, and while that is, of course, an easy target, so the film doesn’t go too much for overbroad comedy, instead it relies on some surprisingly good acting, to make what could easily be cardboard characters come to life.
Chris Pratt is a favorite of mine, and he’s certainly up to his normal standards here, but I was really impressed by the performances of Brendan Hines and Rachel Specter who display some real chemistry in what is a completely formulaic romance. Normally in this sort of low-budget exploitation comedy I’d expect a lot of hammy over-acting but the cast mostly comes across as real and multi-dimensional people. Except for Denise Richards, who, once upon a time was my defininition of movie star sex-appeal, but now, as Miss Bliss the head of the absurd Tri-Pi sorority house, is just a pale shadow of that. Scott Caan does ham it up quite a bit as the ridiclious porno detective Rod Cannon, but this really works for the character who is simultaniously the primary antagonist and the main comic relief.
I’m realizing as I write this, that I’m spendinig a lot of pixels praising this movie. I don’t want to leave the wrong impression that I somehow consider this a good movie. It’s not. What it is, though, is a movie that exceeded my expectations. It’s got a rediclous premise, that really limits the film’s scope, and the only way to make it a really good movie would have been to really wring some great comedy, but the movie isn’t that funny. However, in its defense it doesn’t try to force comedy when it isn’t there, and doesn’t deliver bad comedy. Instead it brings as much emotional sincerity as premise will allow, and is pretty fun. This isn’t a movie for everybody, that much is certainly true, but for the right person and in the right situation Deep in the Valley is probably worth seeing.