One bit of humor the makers of Porntourage and I can agree upon is that Ted Levine stuffing his junk between his legs in Silence of the Lambs is the funniest thing ever.
On all other matters of comedy, there will be no such agreement. A Levine reference is dropped in not one but two episodes of this short-lived web series. I mention this because A) who doesn’t love Goodbye Horses or Ted Levine and B) the series is short on jokes.
This question must now be asked: can you REALLY parody a parody?
The premise of Porntourage needs no explanation, just read the title, but Entourage was hardly meant to be taken literally. It’s Hollywood wish fulfillment cranked up to a douche factor of eleven. It’s already a caricature.
Okay, that end is taken care of. How about the porn end? Whatever. Porn is great, yes, but it’s always an easy target. Conclusion: this is a lazy idea given an adequate execution.
Vincent Chisel (I thought you were supposed to figure out your porn name a different way, but whatever) is a porn star and so are his buddies Torture (the Turtle, he likes the dark stuff) and Buck (the Johnny Drama). Buck does gay porn, but of course denies it, because, you know, icky gay things are funny. His manager Z (the Eric), does other stuff, I guess. Vince even has his own Ari Gold in Larry Silver.
When our adventure begins, Vince is looking to do independent (amateur) porn only to be lured back to the world of the pretty people. Meanwhile, Z struggles to get AVN Awards tickets, Buck deals with his erectile dysfunction with a trip to Chinatown and the boys help Mr. Bloom (that of the amateur porn couple Vince ditched) try to win his wife back from the clutches of Black Mamba (rely on your own stereotype retrieval method for that one).
Oh, and we do get a play on Piven’s now ubiquitous catch phrase.
I have a theory. When U2 released the song Lemon, they were the most humongous band on the planet. I think Bono intentionally wrote a song that was deliberately insulting just to see if the public would eat it up. They did. That is what I think Porntourage is, another Lemon.
Creator James Waugh knows that the popularity of porn and Entourage will get people to watch a web series. Add some humor that is tailor made for the Nascar and Maxim crowd and you have a hit. In this regard, James Waugh is a frickin’ genius. But, it’s his bed and he must sleep in it (or whatever that metaphor is).
Every one’s performances are fine. Josh Carmichael stands out as Buck Wood. His character turning the tables on a crazed fan is a high point. I would also suggest more screen time for the Jennifer Tilly-esque Mara Marini. Special kudos go to whoever edited, as well. They are not credited but, I’ll guess DP Nico Sabenorio or director Kern Saxton.
The problem, ultimately, is that this comedy is lazy. Porn title jokes were fresh once upon a time. I’ll say maybe around Clerks. But, even Kevin Smith’s porn jokes now wear thin (he did the Ted Levine thing too, by the way, in Clerks II ). When a topic has even been covered by an episode of Friends, isn’t it time to give it a rest?
I did laugh at one title in this series (I dare you not to): Scrotal Recall. I laughed a second time, too, when the Asian mystic used marinated baby corn in his sex concoction. That was it. Then again, I think everyone involved in Porntourage knows this isn’t good, like Nickelback secretly knows they aren’t good. I’m sticking to my theory. (For the record, only one guy is allowed to sing about lemons. His name is Robert Plant.)
All is not lost. You can play a fun little game with this series. It’s called spot the music cue from someone else’s movie. I gave you “Goodbye Horses”. Listen for Brad Fidel’s score from The Terminator and John Ottman’s The Usual Suspects. Now put the lotion in the basket or you’ll get the hose.