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: Initiation has a fairly straightforward plot, and like the other title in this series, Ultimate Games, it can get quite complicated at times. Protagonist Philip seduces his boss's wife, despite the fact that Philip has a fiancée, Lili. When Philip's games become too much for him to handle, Lili is the one who holds the key to his salvation.
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. The plot of this movie is far too complicated at times -- I mean, it should only be the thread that is woven in between the real purpose people will tune into this movie – to watch good-looking people have sex! Instead, it just gets too long, dull, and intricate. Another problem is that most people will hate Philip and feel little sympathy for his situation. Which means you most likely won't care how the plot resolves itself. The sex scenes are just okay; often they get cut off in favor of more office scenes. Boring!
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 there are chapter selections to help you skip over the boring parts. Which is most of the movie.
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 the Total Romance series, but even they might find their attention wandering after a while. If you have a choice between the two, Total Romance: Ultimate Games is marginally better. And come to think of it, even though the title alludes to it, "romance" is pretty hard to find on these discs.