Without checking résumés or anything, I'll plow on into my standard spiel about how mockumentaries are about the easiest way for directors starting out to get a movie into the can (except for horror movies, but that's an entirely different kettle of celluloid). Love Shack treads that well-worn path while skewering behind the scenes aspects of the porn industry. So maybe we knock off a point or two for originality, or taking the easy route, or something. But then we ladle on a whole bunch more points because this Shack is rocking with sharp wit, loads of laughs and a dizzy, true love atmosphere able to win over even the most jaded critic.
Why is the mockumentary such a seemingly easy movie-making method? From my perspective, it looks like another way to simply hang a bunch of short-form sketches on the barest of plot, and if things don't cohere there are numerous opportunities to fix it in the mix. Mockumentaries can rely on easy set-up interview segments to fill out running time, plus those interview segments and voice-over narration function to tell the viewer what's going on, rather than showing it, or letting things build through narrative. On the other hand, such beasts allow you to get way more over the top in terms of humor, without busting up your believability. So on one side we have Boogie Nights and on the other, Love Shack. One fits into the cinema pedigree, and the other goes straight for the nuts.
Love Shack tells the story of down on his luck porn director Mac Hollister (Christopher Boyer) followed by a camera crew while attempting to film late, great, legendary sleaze auteur Mo Saltzman's lost script. Assembling a cast of current porn stars and members of Saltzman's stable, Hollister attempts the impossible; to make nasty magic out of nothing. Will Hollister be able to handle warring divas, on-the-rocks marrieds, tag-team brothers with an unfortunate past, and 65-year-old former porn actors who have thrown on a lot of weight? What about the fact that he's got overbearing producers and about as much influence as Tobe Hooper on the set of Poltergeist?
Of course, watching the whole thing fall apart in pathetic desperation is way more fun than witnessing a loving success story. And if the thrust of the plot gets a little limp, writer/directors Gregg Sacon and Michael B. Silver can always fall back on Saltzman's back-story, featuring plenty of interview segments and posters for his old films. (We all know what an easy laugh porn parody titles are, and there is no shortage of such material here.) Love Shack tries pushing the envelope with outrageous sexual humor; the brothers are still dealing with fallout from a DP scene in which they accidentally touched tips, and even worse things are mentioned. Much of this will probably, regrettably seem old-hat to audiences weaned on Internet porn, yet the gee-whiz zeal with which these jokes are thrown still garners plenty of yucks.
Less obvious things cause Love Shack to rise, standing proud above the crowd. For starters, the cast is loaded with talented character actors whose names you might not recognize, but whose faces are terribly familiar - it's comforting knowing you're with the pros, even if you don't know who they are. Ian Gomez as Saltzman is a high point; either waxing rhapsodic in a hot tub, full of cherubic love; or later when he seems to have degenerated into a Colonel Kurtz type character, Gomez brings out an eerie, dreamlike quality. Boyer's proud desperation and collapse is poignant for the truth it reveals, and his attempts at heating up the screen are hilarious, especially the coupling of his more senior cast members, thankfully heard but not seen.
Sacon and Silver might not break the originality barrier; in fact they take the low road in crafting their redemptive tale of down-and-out pornster Mac Hollister. By employing documentary techniques they have a built in way to take the pressure off of narrative build-up, plus, they are able to throw as many cheap jokes as they want in there without disrupting the flow. Not everything works, of course, but you'll still get plenty of laughs from this stupidly outrageous sexual throw-down.