The Moguls

Aspirations in small town Butterface Fields are few and opportunities fewer, so when leading local drop-out Andy (Jeff Bridges) emerges from a ‘thinking binge’ with the notion of making a money-spinning amateur porno flick, his bar-room buddies are quick to volunteer: conspicuously macho Moose (Ted Danson) can’t wait to prove himself; deluded would-be auteur ‘Some Idiot’ (Joe Pantoliano) and shy, techy video-store clerk Emmett (Patrick Fugit) take on behind-camera duties; relatively sharp tool Barney (Tim Blake Nelson) handles logistics; and Otis (William Fichtner) just wants to stand around and watch, so they make him executive producer. Despite their fretting, it isn’t even too hard to find female performers. Naturally, however, the production process isn’t entirely without its bumpy bits.

What’s weird here is not so much the notion of downhome porn – it’s the new market staple, after all – as the eerie amiability with which these folks go about it: from Andy’s ex to senior citizens to the laughably biddable staff of the local bed store, the town swings behind the project with uniform affability and mutual consideration. Nothing can shock and no one is even faintly taken advantage of; the crew even turn their back on the action to spare the cast’s modesty. Director Michael Traeger is comparably careful not to show anything to startle the horses; yet if there’s something hypocritically coy about a sex comedy without sex (let alone a porn industry without victims), there’s also something refreshing about the characters’ unabashed good nature – at least until the grievously saccharine finale. Cute dialogue and a savvy cast (Bridges reprises his Jeff Lebowski) make for an enjoyable enough stroll but, really, who wants Stepford with double penetration?

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday April 28 2006
Duration: 96 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Traeger
Screenwriter: Michael Traeger
Cast: Jeff Bridges
Tim Blake Nelson
William Fichtner
Ted Danson
Jeanne Tripplehorn
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