Starring Anna Biller. Rated 18A.
“There’s never been a better time to be a man,” one character states, straight into the camera. “The pleasures, the entitlement. Enjoy this time—for it will soon be gone, never to return.”
That monologue comes in a rare moment of self-reflection during an otherwise cheeky ode to the cracked mores and el-cheapo production values of the pre-hard-core sexploitation vehicles of the 1960s and ’70s. The eras are liberally mixed by writer-director Anna Biller, who also did the film editing and set design and stars as Barbi, a bored L.A. housewife who decides to unleash her inner Bob Guccione when blond-god hubby Rick (Chad England) takes one business trip too many.
When her neighbour (Bridget Brno) has similar troubles with her beyond-smarmy mate (funny Jared Sanford), she joins our raven-haired heroine—now calling herself Viva, like the magazine—for some afternoon swinging. This eventually leads to an all-out orgy sequence that plays like a Bob Hope–Bing Crosby Road movie directed by Russ Meyer.
What makes the film so much fun, for most of its too-long two hours, is Biller’s almost heedless mix of period styles and notions, with eye-gouging primary colours competing for attention with ridiculous furniture, absurd hairdos, and, of course, Jell-O moulds and Kevlar bras, while the plot zigzags crazily from nudist camps to hippie sing-alongs and proto-feminist declarations to LSD–tinged animation and Eurotrash porn í la Camille 2000.
The acting is variable, as you might imagine, and the dialogue, like the songs that pop up occasionally, should be hilarious rather than just amusing. Still, there are so many sharp ideas here—nothing that couldn’t be improved chemically—the movie almost makes you feel nostalgic for sex like it never was. And never will be again.