Sebastian Gutierrez’s entertaining and determinedly racy “Women in Trouble” has a lot going for it, despite its modest budget, little-known cast and reported 12-day shooting schedule. The title alone suggests Pedro Almodovar, and while Gutierrez similarly can mine an extravagant multi-character soap opera plot for both outrageous hilarity and surprising depth, he is more interested in creating an irresistible entertainment that affords nine talented actresses sensational roles than in projecting a vision laced with irony in the Almodovar manner.
“Women in Trouble” plays like George Cukor’s “The Women” brought raunchily up to date; this film, however, is not without men, and its three key actors -- “The Mentalist’s” Simon Baker, Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who turns up in an amusingly preposterous post-end-credit sequence) -- who appear in cameos are the film’s most familiar names.
The cast finds itself playing it straight in increasingly outrageous circumstances. Carla Gugino heads the cast as porn star Elektra Luxx, currently filming a scene with adult newcomer Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki), who, in turn, teams with Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui) in hooking gigs. Elektra gets stuck in an elevator with Doris (Connie Britton), angry at her sister Addy (Caitlin Keats), who’s having an affair with the husband (Baker) of her therapist (Sarah Clarke). Meanwhile, Elektra’s erstwhile boyfriend, a British rock star (Brolin) is seducing a flight attendant (Marley Shelton). And this is just the beginning. The cast also includes Isabella Gutierrez -- the filmmaker’s daughter -- as a remarkably mature 13-year-old.
The sexual humor is often bawdy, and Gutierrez goes right up to the edge of camp. Amid the laughter, Gutierrez can show intense pain, never more so than when a wife discovers her husband’s infidelity. “Women in Trouble” has sleeper written all over it and a sequel is already in the works.
‘Women in Trouble’
MPAA rating: R for sexual content, including strong dialogue, and for language
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: At the ArcLight Hollywood