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SSI: Sexy Squad Investigation

POPcinema // R // June 5, 2007
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bill Gibron | posted July 9, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Product:
To repeat the observations of a previous review, the softcore sex film used to be a staple of late night cable TV, an easily obtainable alternative to a still very taboo XXX entertainment ideal. Indeed, back before adult material went meta, then mainstream, the only way to experience some hot horizontal hopscotch was to crank up Showtime or tune to Cinemax and wallow in a heaping helping of old school suggested sizzle. Sure, the actresses seemed a simple step away from the service end of your local dive bar, and their partners were either portly or merely playacting, but they frequently delivered some basic bang for your pay television buck. For better or worse, the easy availability of porn (along with the social acceptability of rampant plastic surgery) changed everything, so much so that no one even bothers with the non-penetration brand of balling today. Seduction Cinema has been doing its best to change all that. Hoping there is still an audience for I Like the Girls Who Do style skin flicking, this DVD distributor (via Pop Cinema) has been putting out a long line of lewd-lite offerings. Their most recent is this goofy crime procedural spoof SSI: Sexy Squad Investigations. While very weak in wantonness, this is still a worthwhile flesh farce.

The Plot:
Thanks to the newly passed "Illicit Sex Act" legislation from the administration of President George W. Shrub, the members of New York City's elite detective department, the SSI (which stands for Sexy Squad Investigation) have their work cut out for them. Charged with enforcing the "no fornication outside of marriage" mandates of the law, it's their job to travel the area and nab perv perps in the pursuit of pleasure. But John Honeysuckle is having a hard time coping with the death of his previous partner and beloved brother Mickey. It's taking a toll on his personal and professional life. So when new sidekick Katrina Lightbody shows up, he is none too happy. She's an earnest young rookie desperate to crack her first case - and as luck would have it, a serial seducer is on the loose, leaving a trail of satisfied paramours in her wake. Oddly enough, it appears that the criminal's intentions lead directly to the White House, the Commander in Chief's supposedly virginal daughter, and the vivacious Vice President. Honeysuckle and Lightbody must find a way to work together and solve the case. The fate of the free love world lie in their well honed diddling deduction skills.

The DVD:
A few weeks back, this critic had the pleasure of diving into a saucy bit of goofy gratuity known as Sex Hex. Overloaded with lesbianism and supplemented by the silliest of scripts, its delirious debauchery was enough to revive your faith in the softcore porn pic. It would be nice to say the same about SSI: Sexy Squad Investigation. After all, both movies share a similar sensibility (call it 'lampoon with lewdness') and a couple of familiar faces (John Paul Fedele as cop John Honeysuckle and A.J. Khan as his assistant, Katrina Lightbody). But whereas Sex Hex made with the Sappho slap and tickle earnestly and erotically, SSI is very sparse in shagging. Now, this may have something to do with a tiny postcard found inside the DVD, asking viewers for a few extra dollars to obtain an "unrated" version of the movie, or it just may be a flaw in director Thomas J. Moose's smut style. Here's betting on the former concept. SSI does indeed play like a XXX title shorn of all its interpersonal spelunking. Instead of bringing on the balling, Mr. Moose gives us a small amount of foreplay, a flash of flesh, and then "BANG", we're right back into the pseudo political spoof. SSI uses the neo-con-tradictions of the Bush administration (here renamed President "Shrub") to poke fun at American's continuing social Puritanism. The conservative mandate of "no sex outside marriage" is meant to be a clever take on the rampant randiness of the population at large.

For the most part, it works. Moose and his screen scribe Andy Sawyer deliver enough Airplane! like anarchy to keep our mind off the missing monkey business - at least for a while. While his cast can occasionally spoil the situation by winking too obviously at the audience, for the most part, this is a very funny movie. There's a clever "Who's on First" like exchange between the confused Commander in Chief and his saucy Vice President, and when Officers Lightbody and Honeysuckle share a tender moment of personal reminiscence, the carefully controlled tone really supports some serious laughs. But there are also incidents of just plain stupidity. A newscaster named Bob Jurunkle (get it?) frequently breaks in to offer unfunny expositional skits, while Shrubs' dumb ass routine can grow tiring after a while. Of course, we could tolerate these trip ups more easily if there was some enticing poon to protect us. But for some reason, even with all the hot looking skirt available for the exploiting, this version of SSI is a real limp biscuit. Between Angelina Havusinner (as the main pleasure perp), McKenzie Matthews (as a dickless Cheney) and Ms. Khan herself (so capable, as Sex Hex indicated), you'd figure you could find a minute or two excuse for some tantalizing titillation. Sadly, there is very little to get 'worked up' over.

Which brings us to an interesting point about films like SSI. Why, exactly, do audiences still swarm to such non-hardcore charms? After all, actual full blown pornography is readily available anywhere there is an Internet connection, and the glory days of underground bump and grind are basically gone. Turn on your cable around 11:00PM EST and you're guaranteed to see the closest thing to penetration this side of the Evil Angel catalog. Sure, Sex Hex was different in that it used the standard girl/girl grind to deliver dynamic gal grope gonzo. Most adult lesbian scenes are dull, since they skimp on the passion and amplify the artifice. But here, SSI does little of either. The couples we see attempting to copulate are always cut off in mid-mount, and we never get the feeling that the fornication was part of the story to begin with. It seems added on, the nominal necessity to get a title like this released. Still, one can't completely dismiss everything about this otherwise genial jaunt. Moose and Sawyer are an amiable pair, and they do create something that's imminently watchable and easy to digest. Just because it can't match the delirious drilling of other efforts in its genre doesn't mean it lacks any and all merit. It's just too bad it couldn't cough up the carnality. SSI: Sexy Squad Investigations has a perky premise and a great cast. Unfortunately, the one thing it should be good at becomes its greatest failing.

The Video:
Obviously made on the down low, financially speaking, SSI: Sexy Squad Investigation doesn't look half bad on DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is clean, colorful and loaded with clearly defined details. The lighting is professional and the production values poised on the higher end of homemade movie making. In fact, aside from the limited locations, you'd never guess this was a no budget effort.

The Audio:
On the sound side, there is nothing very interesting about the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix used to realize the various aural elements. It's a standard stereo presentation. One thing that does require pointing out is the collection of crazy quasi-cover songs employed throughout the soundtrack. There's a backwards/sideways remake, sort of, of the Who's "Who Are You?", and a couple of competing cock rock tracks meant to mimic the CSI style of anthemic backdropping. The lyrics here are hilarious, and the tracks themselves lend an amazing satiric undertone to the film.

The Extras:
First up, we are treated to a decidedly odd commentary track featuring director Moose and screenwriter Sawyer. Hooked up to what they call an 'old Victorian electric shock parlor game', the two trade anecdotes about the film while screaming in agony every time they take a jolt. It's either a purposeful put on, or a way of explaining a faulty technical issue (a bad microphone, maybe?). Next is a series of bloopers. They're funny and full of surprises. In addition, there is a wealth of Seduction Cinema/Pop Cinema trailers, many for movies that look far cheesier than the one they complement. Finally, we are treated to a 30 minute short entitled The FBI Guys. It's a wonderfully witty take on cop shows and a whole lot of fun. You can also enjoy a commentary track from the creators of said satire. Overall, this is a decent DVD package, one that really highlights the enthusiasm that went into this project.

Final Thoughts: On a ersatz porn scale of one to ten, 'one' being All Dogs Go to Heaven and 'ten' being a Belladonna object-to-derriere jawdropper, SSI sits somewhere near a 'three'. It's got a long way to go before companies like Vivid and Wicked need to worry, but it's better than some of the incredibly lame erotica being passed off by other fly by night digital companies. To be fair, this critic had a good time with this title - not an arousing or groin-grabbingly good time - but a good time nonetheless. Therefore, he is going to give SSI: Sexy Squad Investigation a solid Recommended. A few may balk at such a suggestion, especially considering the amount of 'no balling' bellyaching contained in this review. But the truth is, sometimes sex isn't everything. And before you start screaming sacrilege, remember - fake friggin' is never a satisfying substitute for the real thing. For those who believe differently, there are doctors and drugs to cure what obviously ails you. Here's a suggestion for the benevolent blokes responsible for this motion picture misstep; next time, less humor and more humping.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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