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By Greg Bellavia | June 20, 2005

This review can be summed up in six words: “Fore Play” is not very funny. To say anything else would merely reinforce this point but here goes. A 70’s sex comedy that wears its age on its sleeve, “Fore Play” was originally conceived as four separate stories regarding sexual farce but due to last second creative differences whittled down to three. “Fore Play” has a curious blend of talent involved considering it was co-directed by John G Avildsen of “Rocky” fame, has characters played by Jerry Orbach (“Law and Order”) AND Zero Mostel (“The Producers”) and is being released to DVD by Troma. However, despite the effort put on by the game cast and crew, nothing can save this film from a terrible script and horrific editing.

The first segment directed by Robert J McCarty entitled “Norman and the Polish Doll” actually has the best set up and execution of the three stories. Norman (Pat Paulson) is a loser who, in his attempts to buy a plastic sex doll, ends up with the completely realistic doll Wanda (Deborah Loomis). Norman*s delight quickly turns to frustration when his doll refuses to cooperate and begins demanding such things as a meaningful relationship. While a cute setup and expertly played by both celebrated straight man Paulson and Loomis, the lines are simply not funny. As the sketch begins to take off it comes to a sudden halt and we are treated to the next tale…

“Vortex” directed by Bruce Malmuth concerns frustrated blurb writer Jerry (Jerry Orbach) who cannnot seem to overcome his writers block. To his aide comes Roberto (George S. Irving) Jerry’s sleazy Italian muse who, wearing only a panama hat, flippers and red speedo, whisks Jerry away to help overcomes past sexual embarrassments in order to spicen up his life. In addition to not being all that funny this segment also doesn’t make a lot of sense. The editing is distracting and cuts out large chunks of the story. The final part involving a women from Jerry’s past named Anytime Annie (Carmen Alvarez) showing up at his house seems like it was tacked on and is out of place. Both this story and “Norman and the Polish Doll” are repeatedly interrupted by a sex professor (Irwin Correy) whose shtick is good natured but also obnoxiously out of place. While annoying, the professor would be a welcome break from the third and most banal of the three stories…

“Inaugural Ball” directed by John G. Avildsen deals with the President of the United States (Zero Mostel) being blackmailed by the head of the Mafia (also played by Zero Mostel) to have sex with his wife (Estelle Parsons) on national television. The longest of the three segments by an extra twenty minutes, “Inaugural Ball” also has the least amount of creativity. The sex jokes are lame, the Italian jokes are lame and the gay jokes lame as well. Perhaps this segment is the longest in order to pad the film out because of the lost fourth story but in the face of this disaster the filmmakers would have been better off either cutting this down or better yet cutting it out entirely.

This is not to say that all of “Fore Play” is a total failure. Having a film be this free and not politically correct is somewhat refreshing. One wishes in today’s uptight American market of censorship, filmmakers could freely let their hair down. There are a few laughs to be had considering gags like the sleazy muse or the woman who sleeps with men if they can undress her in sixty seconds turning out to be a prude in bed but any smiles this movie causes are overwhelmed by the amount of dead air and missed opportunities, especially during the last forty five minutes. Paulson, Orbach, Irving, Loomis and Mostel act their heats out and their effort is to be commended but cannot overcome the scripts shortcomings.

Not very funny or sexy “Fore Play” deserves to be returned to the obscurity from which it came.

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