In the 'go with what you know' file is a little item we've labeled: Indie filmmakers making movies about making movies. It is, as we say, a no-brainer, and the direct-to-DVD shelves are littered with examples. Many of them are not so fine. Not so with Hookers Inc., a clever little effort along the lines of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, only made two years earlier and minus nearly any semblance of a plot. Despite its racy theme, Hookers is mostly shambling and pleasant - not for lack of constant effort at being outrageous. It's also offensive and degenerate - but those are good things - and if you agree with that statement you won't be blown away, but you'll find Hookers Inc. charming, sometimes hilarious, and worth your time.
Maybe I just like stupidity: Hookers Inc. has it in spades. Stewy (Matthew Dowling) and Slimmy (Tim Pingel) work for a pimp named Hollowpoint, (Kareem Elseify) driving his hookers to various jobs. (You're going to win points in my book with names like 'Slimmy' and 'Hollowpoint', by the way.) Slimmy and Stewy are saving money so they can produce their own porn film, and finding proceeds from Hollowpoint not enough decide to start pimping on their own in hopes of attracting investors for their movie - or something like that. Luring a pair of moronic, inept strippers (one with epilepsy) into their scheme to offer 'massages', they find the duo - Starship (Joy Somers) and Starshyp (co-writer Camille Solari) - poor masseuses, unwilling to sleep with their customers, and later totally unable to act. Then Slimmy hires an assistant named Sac Boy.
You see where this is going. Hookers Inc. is really just a series of vignettes loosely grouped around the above plot, bolstered by explanatory narration and title cards. Much of the comedy feels improvised, and as such is hit-or-miss, but if you're in the right state of mind, the hits are good enough. OK, so endless scenes of Starshyp convulsing lose whatever humorous impact they might have early on, but lines like; "are you discriminating against a perfectly good epileptic hooker?" have a certain transgressive power. There then might follow five minutes of redundant boneheaded duds, but soon enough another zinger will spring up. Starshyp and Starship end up in counseling, and are asked by their therapist about other teams who had problems. One answers, "Ringling Brothers," to which the therapist fairly screams "yeah, they had a CIRCUS!" only to later witness one trying to choke the other with an imaginary rope.
All of which would, of course, suck if not for the actors. Starshi(y)ps Somers and Solari throw themselves into their dumb-as-stumps roles with such ferocity it's truly amazing. These actresses own their objectified idiots to the extent that they make having an 80 IQ seem saintly. Meanwhile Dowling (something like Seth Rogan's older brother) and writer/director Pingel galumph along with genial sincerity. Elseify's Hollowpoint is profane and pimp-pompous - everyone appears to be having a really good time, and that enjoyment carries the thin plot and sometimes threadbare pranking a long way. Even the biggest name here, Kato Kaelin as himself, has something to add. (Kaelin: "I've got some weird fetishes." Stewy, perhaps too eager to please: "We'll rip their fingernails out!")
So if non-sequiturs and jokes not only off-the-wall but out-of-the building are your cup of tea, and you have a strong tolerance for bits that miss the mark entirely, you're in luck. Yes, disability jokes are lame, (Starshyp's epilepsy is used for laughs about every five minutes) and shock humor filling in a plot about making a movie is about the easiest possible way to go for the fledgling filmmaker, but something about the easy-going, 'we don't give a damn' attitude on display in Hookers Inc. makes it pretty easy to take. Gather some friends, shut off your brain, and you'll have a good time.
Hooker's Inc. appears in non-anamorphic 1.66:1 ratio, revealing all of its low-budget roots: semi-soft picture, flaccid details, limp lighting, etc. I guess the transfer isn't terrible, but the source is strictly below average direct-to-DVD quality.
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Audio similarly reveals the shortcomings of its source. Lots of live sound recording means varying levels of volume for dialog, and sometimes-poor clarity. But, you know, nothing's incomprehensible.
First up is the obligatory, but quite amusing Commentary Track, with Pingel, Dowling and Sac Boy taking their lumps with comical grace. They're aware that they haven't made a masterpiece, and they're quite OK with that fact. After that come some obligatory Outtakes, about six minutes worth, that are for the most part as funny as the stuff left in the movie. 13 minutes of Deleted Scenes seem to be more of the usual as far as extras go - including yet another seizure from Starshyp - but an inexplicable, funny and quite effective nightmare horror movie sequence at the end proves Pingel might have picked the wrong genre to lampoon. Four minutes of Behind The Scenes earn an accolade of 'meh' and in fact seem no different than the outtakes or deleted scenes - it's all sort of blending together. Seven minutes of a Heidi Fleiss Party amounts to nothing but red carpet time outside of what seems to be some type of porn star convention. If there aren't enough boobs flashed for your tastes during the feature, you'll get your fill here.
Summed up, Hookers Inc. is about 75 minutes of superbly stupid improv humor loosely coalescing around two dopey aspiring porn directors and their slapdash prostitution scheme. This is not a family comedy, and it's not for everyone. Though pretty repetitive and low rent, Hookers Inc. has enough brain-damaged, politically incorrect laughs and easy-going goofball performances to please forgiving fans of the absurd. Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com