Released: Oct 01st, 1999
Running Time: 95
Director: Brad Armstrong
Company: Wicked Pictures
Cast: Serenity, Sydnee Steele, Missy (I), Sterling, Randy Spears, Herschel Savage, Mickey G.
Critical Rating: AAAA 1/2
Can\'t wait to see what\'s next\" should be the general buzz around your Wicked shelf. Showcase this one in that vein and wait, dear retailer, with bated breath, for The Next Big Thing.
The longtime implicit mission statement at Wicked Pictures - to take pornography seriously; to match, if not rival, mainstream productions, value for value; and to bring this entire industry up to a level of professionalism and accountability heretofore unknown - makes itself felt in every frame of this adult feature achievement from director Brad Armstrong.
Armstrong's come into his own with The Kissing Game. Slick is the operative word here, in the best possible way. Without fanfare, without ever trying too hard, Armstrong, through excellent videography, smart, stylish editing and beautiful art design - his strong suit in the first place - has crafted a taut tale of the double-cross, along the way prompting top-notch performances from his stars and making the whole thing look, well, effortless. Story is solid as well. Armstrong has constructed from previous criticism as pre-nom (and certain runner) for Best Video of the year.
Randy Spears VOs most of the proceedings as a middling-successful con man who sets up the well-to-do using pretty poison (and partner in crime) Serenity, snapping pictures of his victims in flagrante and then blackmailing them with the goods. His target is Herschel Savage, who loves wife Missy but in a moment of weakness takes the bait (and who could blame him - Serenity in that liquid gold dress, mmm). The video's only gratuitous moment comes here, when Spears stakes out the Serenity/Savage liaison, and turns his lens on another group of merrymakers when the shades get drawn prematurely. Sure, sure: ya gotta mix it up, get a few other faces in there, what have you… but the rest of Game is so above this kind of lazy trickery, and a quarter of an A is lost to this temporary flagging of creativity. The Mickey G/Sydnee Steele, Sterling threeway that follows is good, but has all the intensity of an add-on sex scene. The sex as a whole is serviceable; still, nothing to write home about, accounting for another tiny rating dock. And the score, while very nice, is so much cleaner than the dialogue track that the music ends up further muffling the words. Not good.
Savage performs up to the usual standard, making us so glad he's rejoined the porn fold. Pre-nom him for Best Supporting Actor - Video, and a nod especially in the direction of his opening sex scene with Missy. Serenity plays both sides of her character's face with aplomb (pre-nom Best Actress); and Missy essays the conniving bitch role - can you handle it? - pretty convincingly. Spears' lead performance nonpareil earns him a Best Actor pre-nom, and rack them up for the below-the-liners: Jonathan Morgan, editing (especially the double-cross reveal, which could have been laughable but instead was so cool); Jake Jacobs, videography; and Rod Hopkins, art direction. Armstrong - what did you think? - Best Director pre-nom. Without a moment's hesitation.