The idea of erotic films aimed at women is not a new one, and it is always an intriguing proposition. As our good friends, sex researchers Masters & Johnson, have demonstrated, women can be aroused by porn just as easily as men, although they may be more reluctant to admit it.
Films of this nature for women have several requirements that distinguish them from those aimed at men. First and foremost, there must be a plot, and preferably one more detailed than a sweaty guy hiring an 18-year-old with a penchant for short skirts and stilettos as his secretary. Secondly, there needs to be some romance and some buildup to the inevitable sex scene (kind of like real life, when you think about it). Finally, most women like to see some acknowledgement that the kind of sex shown in hard core pornography is not a true turn-on for women. In other words, guys, if you're learning your sexual techniques from porn, you are being woefully misled.
When I first heard of the Total Romance series, I thought it was some sort of soft-core-porn-disguised-as-instructional-video series. In other words, a how-to for couples who need to spice up their sex lives. Instead, it's just softcore porn with out the instructional stuff thrown in. Let's evaluate it, shall we?
The French film Total Romance: Ultimate Games centers around a Dangerous Liaisons-esque plot about a male and a female, Martina and Andy, who scheme to sleep with as many people as possible. Andy likes a virginal blond who only wants to be his friend. Things get very complicated from there as their sexual entanglements lead to suspicion and jealousy.
On the plus side, there is a great deal of attention paid to the lavish sets and attractive costuming, and all the actors and actresses are gorgeous, something that can't be said for hard core porn (Ron Jeremy, anyone?). The Paris scenery helps, too. During the sex scenes there is also a good deal of foreplay, another element that hard core films appear to lack.
Some of the drawbacks of this film are the cheesy pseudo-techno music that plays during the sex scenes and the fact that the plot is not all that interesting. Often, it is too complicated, and in this film it is a direct takeoff of Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions. That said, at least there is a plot. The dialogue is especially bad, compounded by the English dubbing. A sample line from this film is, "Paul? That jerk who thinks he is so hot?" I found myself watching the actors' lips to see if they were moving in unison with the words. Sometimes they did, other times they didn't. The other problem is that the sex scenes are often interrupted by another scene intended to advance the limp plot.
Be sure to check out the threesome with cool 1970s stop-action technology. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out the last five minutes of an episode of CHIPs. Ponch is disco dancing. Freeze! Now they're all laughing. Freeze! Jon loops his fingers through his belt loops. Freeze!
The video quality is actually quite good. Presented in 16x9 anamorphic widescreen, the picture and colors are sharp and vivid. This is especially evident when viewing the beautiful sets and the scenery of Paris. No guys, it's not just a tired stereotype, women actually do care about that stuff.
This disc features both English and French language tracks, and it defaults to English. The sound quality is excellent, especially when it comes to the numerous music tracks that play in the background. Too bad the music isn't better, but I'll take it any day over the wocka-wocka music that plays over most hardcore movies. Not that I've, ahem, watched many of them.
There are no extras on this disc, although it would be interesting if they had had cast interviews. Imagine the male lead saying, "Well, I preferred the blond to the redhead because her hands weren't so cold." Or one of the females saying, "Gee, it was so much fun to be totally naked while he didn't even have to unzip his pants."
Overall, if women are looking to watch this with their men, count on the men being bored. Too much talk and not enough action. Women may enjoy Ultimate Games, but even they might find their attention wandering after a while. Maybe men and women are more alike than different after all! Well, at least when it comes to this movie.