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Orgies and the Meaning of Life

Cinema Epoch // Unrated // September 29, 2009
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bobby Cooper | posted March 24, 2010 | E-mail the Author

Catchy title, huh? I'll own up to it: the original reason I wanted to review Orgies and the Meaning of Life is because the title piqued my interest. Yes, there are a few orgy scenes here. No, this isn't a porn flick at all. In fact, the nudity is brief and really not any worse than you'd see in a rated R film such as American Pie. If those few orgy scenes won't offend you, and I doubt they will since you're reading this review, then you'll be treated to a fascinating movie.

Baxter Goode (Brad T. Gottfred, The Movie Hero) is a 30-ish man still seeking his path in life. He's having difficulty trying to cope with the fact that he can't have sex without imagining orgies with other women. Baxter is searching for a woman who will accept him and his "freak" fantasies, but he is afraid to divulge his dark secret to anybody except his lesbian roommate Denny. Baxter's dad is a successful Christian inspirational author who wants his son to follow in his footsteps as a writer. As a result, Baxter begins writing a self-reflective a book about a stick figure who participates in orgies, doesn't believe he's a stick figure, and whose sole mission is to find the portal to the three-dimensional world. The problem is that Baxter's book is only half-finished; Baxter's father, who fears what his son's "pornographic" stick figure book will do to his own career, won't let Baxter publish the book.

Brad T. Gottfred writes, directs, and stars in this movie. He crafts a brilliant, multi-faceted story out of the main character who struggles to make his own way in life without living in the shadow of his father. The plot itself is simple enough and has been told countless times. However, as you watch and ponder what you are seeing, the story's meaning becomes deeper. Often, movies that attempt to "be deep and symbolic" come across as pretentious (I'm looking at you, Thin Red Line). It is an unusual treat to have a story so simple be as complicated as you want to make it and still be enjoyable. The dialogue in this movie feels real and down-to-earth, which helps keep the story grounded. Orgies and the Meaning of Life will truly mean different things to different viewers.

The movie begins with an amusing cartoon of Baxter's own version of Genesis, which explains who God is and why He created the universe. The stick figure cartoon segments are peppered throughout the movie. These segments parallel Baxter's journey to find The One - a woman so perfect that his delusional fantasies of orgies will end. This is a rare instance where dream sequences and cartoon intervals work extremely well in a movie. Baxter's mission to end the fantasies ties the sequences into the story wonderfully. These elements are integral to the story and it truly couldn't be told as well without them. The interrogation flashbacks of Baxter being quizzed by his father could possibly have been left out. However, the flashbacks emphasize some of the issues Baxter is facing: that Baxter is tortured by his father's success, that Baxter is unable to be his own man, and that Baxter has lived under the rigid set of rules outlined in his father's bestselling book, Five Lessons on How to be a Good Person in the Eyes of God.

There are a few loose ends that aren't neatly tied up in some of the subplots. There is a lot of symbolism used in this movie such as portions featuring a turtle on the road, a bizarre neighbor who is searching for his lost dog, and the use of the color, bright green. As a personal preference, I appreciate when writers explain their meaning; I don't like abstract symbolic elements in stories being left open to interpretation. However, I have to admit that I enjoyed speculating a little on what some of these elements might have meant. Not a lot, mind you--just a little.

The DVD:

Sound: The audio is presented in Stereo 2.0. It's not the clearest audio ever, but it serves its purpose. I did have to crank my volume up quite a bit to be able to catch all the dialogue. Obviously this title wasn't designed to flex your shiny, new, 7.2 audio system.

Video: The visual quality of this movie is subpar. There is noticeable blocking, especially in darker portions of the film. The colors seem faded and the image tends to get blurry in spots.

Extras: The extras included in this set are simply fantastic. I was left wanting even more and that's a compliment considering I was impressed with what was already included.

  • The Director's Statement is a note from Brad T. Gottfred that lays out his rationale for most of the story. It is a great position statement for the most part, although he outright states that he leaves several parts open to viewer interpretation. This extra made me wish a Director's Commentary could have somehow been included.
  • The Still Gallery is a slideshow of screenshots from the movie. The subpar quality of the stills match the video quality of the movie; I'm not sure why this was included.
  • The Deleted Scenes include wordy and slightly raunchier versions of the orgies, Baxter needlessly detailing his book to Allison, and an alternate version of Theodore searching for his cat instead of his dog. None of these deleted scenes would have added anything to the story and removing them made the movie flow much better. I, for one, was fascinated that there was a cat version of the Theodore subplot. Using a dog, however, made much more sense since cats can symbolize many things that the director probably didn't intend.
  • The Director's Shorts include a disturbing short film called Rape Date and another short called Homerun for Dad where Brad T. Gottfred fantasizes about hitting a homerun to send his team to the Community College World Series.

Bottom Line: In case you haven't guessed, I absolutely loved this movie. Any story that can get a simple creature like me to ponder and speculate on existential meanings must be applauded. Movies like Orgies and The Meaning of Life are why I love giving independent films a chance. There are a lot of clunkers that you'll turn off within a few minutes, but sometimes you happen across a gem such as this that really speaks to you. If you have no issue with a few very softcore orgy scenes, then you'll find a deep, moving, very rewatchable story. Brad T. Gottfred earned at least one new fan. Highly Recommended.

Bobby is a programmer by trade and a wannabe writer. Check out his other reviews here. You can also check out his blog about harmless nonsense or follow him on Twitter

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