She's So Fine (1985)
I spent a lot of She's So Fine thinking that if the hardcore sex was replaced with slapstick gags, wedding day hijinks (the cake gets dropped, flowers for a funeral instead of a wedding are delivered, or what have you), and linen closet hook-ups, someone could probably get the movie greenlit by a studio tomorrow. Sure, it'd be derivative, but if there's one thing most people can agree on, it's that Hollywood likes to make the same movies as many times as possible.
The film focuses on bride-to-be Angela (Taija Rae) waiting for her fiance Whitney on her wedding day. The first person to arrive, unannounced and presumably uninvited, is Angela's ex-boyfriend Don (Joey Silvera, who plays Don with more than a little Jim Ignatowski). Don's followed by neighbors Roger (Jerry Butler) and Suzanne (Sharon Kane). Following them, Whitney's best man, glam rocker Alice George (Paul Thomas) shows up with his back up singers Lilac (Melanie Scott) and Tweaky (Sharon Mitchell). Lastly, Jim (Johnny Nineteen), a used car salesman who spent $25 to get ordained through the mail in order to "perform marriage on" Angela, and Pam (Rachel Ashley). There's an extremely light culture clash between the rockers and the "normal" folks (one that would definitely need to be played up for the Hollywood pitch), and repeated references to the US auto industry and the University of Michigan. The former in that Jim's a car salesman, Don works for Ford, Pam was a loan officer dealing with car financing, and Roger is chided for driving a Toyota. In fact, at one point Don mentions that "If they catch you smoking dope [at Ford], they'll replace you with a robot," a statement awfully poignant for a generally light porn flick. For the latter, Don wears a Michigan t-shirt, Angela's got a Michigan pennant above her bed, Pam mentions Jim's days as a student activist, and it comes to light that Suzanne and Tweaky had a poli sci class together during which they rub their legs against one another (a conversation that, perhaps obviously leads to a girl-girl scene). A group of friends with University of Michigan friends getting together and reminiscing reminded me a whole hell of a lot of The Big Chill. Just sayin'.
An opening scenic montage and theme song setting the location as Detroit is followed by Roger setting up a video camera the size of a large shoebox three feet from the bed in which his wife, Suzanne, is sleeping. The camera is hooked up to a 26" television set up two feet from the other side of the bed. That Suzanne notices neither from the time she's woken up by Roger masturbating beside her until she's halfway through a blowjob with her face pointed at the television cements her as the least observant woman in the history of observing. Since reading Raw Talent, I can't help but see Jerry Butler as an opportunist that severely overestimates his acting ability. Tough luck for him, but I can't un-read it.
Other scenes include Angela and Don reheating their old flame, Roger and Tweaky, Alice George and Angela's mother (Gloria Leonard), Tweaky and Suzanne, Lilac and Don, Jim and Pam, and finally Roger and Angela. Generally, it's worth noting that, unlike a lot of newer porn, Pachard was willing to leave one sex scene for another (sex scene or otherwise), and return to it later, an approach I always appreciate and I think lends a film more of the feel of a "normal" movie. Specifically, the scene between Roger and Tweaky is interesting as a perfect example of Sharon Mitchell's dominant/scary/sexy nature and the fact that, because of her new wave/punk make up, so looked a lot like Gozer the Gozerian when she came; the scene between Alice and Angela's mother is interesting because it's definitely the first time I've seen a woman seducing a man by taking his makeup off with cold cream (which also gives us the gem "I love Pond's," the sort of line that's delivery makes me love watching Paul Thomas act); and the scene between Angela and Roger is interesting because it's set in motion because Roger is upset that Suzanne and Tweaky got busy...like, right after he finished having sex with Tweaky. The whole sanctity of marriage thing works both ways, bud.
So okay, She's So Fine is successful in that it gives the feel of a hectic ensemble movie with having a relatively small cast; it comes up a little short in that the timing of lines and actions makes the flow of the non-sex scenes a little to herky jerky to build on that hectic feeling (I say "a little short" because, let's face it, there weren't multiple table reads and rehearsals...); but the main problem is that the whole premise of the movie relies on at least a little sympathy for Angela. Unfortunately, Angela kind of comes off as a spoiled sour puss who fucks her ex-boyfriend well before there's a hint she may be stood up on her wedding day, and then her married next door neighbor later on. At the end of the day, though, it's a fine cast, Pachard is a great director, and it's well paced. It may not be a must-see, but it's no dog, either. B-
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