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Review: 'Lucky Bastard' is a clever thriller set in the world of porn

EntertainmentMoviesReviewsNC-17 Rated MoviesJay Paulson

"Lucky Bastard" is a bold little thriller — and deft cautionary tale — involving a website (called Lucky Bastard) that awards average Joes the chance to have sex with a porn star. The caveat: These trysts will be filmed for the site's subscribers, so the more awkward or humiliating the contestant's experience, the better — at least for the viewer.

At the core of this particular circus is the website's tough but equitable impresario, Mike (a terrific Don McManus), who oversees a mini-stable of talent including performers Ashley (Betsy Rue), Casey (Catherine Annette) and Josh (Lee Kholafai) plus cameramen Kris (Chris Wylde) and Nico (Lanny Joon). For these game folks, all of whom are nicely dimensionalized here, porn may have its adventure factor, but it's mostly just a job.

Enter Dave (Jay Paulson), a skittish young guy who's been picked to get it on with his porn idol, Ashley, a former stripper and now single mother. Although we know from the grim opening how this dicey assignation will wind up, plenty of tension ensues as the stalkerish Dave creeps out Ashley, enrages Mike, proves a bust in the boudoir, then exacts revenge against the shoot's cast and crew. 

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It's all been "documented," as the movie's found footage conceit would have it, by the Lucky Bastard cameras as well as by myriad other cameras set up around the rental house used for filming.

First-time director Robert Nathan, a veteran TV writer-producer and Emmy nominee ("Law & Order"), who co-wrote the clever, resourceful and at times darkly wry script with Lukas Kendall, effectively combines the eclectic footage (kudos to editor Tony Randel) to form a kicky, highly involving narrative.

As for the film's NC-17 rating: Although sexual activity and nudity are abundant, they rarely feel gratuitous. As a behind-the-scenes look at the porn biz, the erotic bits are presented with a casual, workaday, decidedly unglamorous candor.

"Lucky Bastard." MPAA rating: NC-17 for explicit sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood. 

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