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Humor pays the price in sex comedy 'Amateur Night'

Humor pays the price in sex comedy 'Amateur Night'
Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen in the movie "Amateur Night." (Cinedigm)

According to husband-and-wife filmmakers Joe Syracuse and Lisa Addario, they wanted to give "Amateur Night" — a droopy comedy about an out-of-work expectant father who takes a job chauffeuring hookers — the feel of the classic '80s comedies that inspired them.

But while the story may have been informed by their own early experiences as struggling Hollywood writers, the end result, with its promise of scantily clad naughtiness, looks less like "Bachelor Party" and more like a musty remnant from the old Cinemax late night programming block.

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With his wife, Anne (Jenny Mollen), about to have a baby and his diploma in architecture failing to lead to gainful employment, frustrated Guy (Jason Biggs) hopes to temporarily make ends meet by answering an ad for a driver on Craigslist.

Turns out it isn't pizzas he'll be delivering but a no-nonsense escort named Nikki (Janet Montgomery) and the two business colleagues (Bria Murphy and Ashley Tisdale) who comprise Bad Girls Party Services.

For some odd reason, Guy's wife seems reasonably OK with the fact that Nikki has blackmailed him into posing as their pimp/protection at their next gig, but that's not the main problem here.

While Guy is the sort of wide-eyed innocent/neurotic that Biggs can play in his sleep at this point in his career, and Montgomery, Murphy and Tisdale get into their roles with a spirited playfulness, the film insistently asserts its autobiographical roots at the expense of sharper plotting and characterizations, not to mention more energetic pacing.

Truth may often be stranger than fiction, but it's seldom as funny.

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'Amateur Night'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood

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