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By Charles Martin | February 5, 2009

Comedy and porn can actually work very well together, provided that the emphasis is on the comedy. Writer/Director James Westby has re-worked a short film he did in 2002 into a full-length feature, and “The Auteur” has been reborn as a sublime satire on sex and cinema, a “Spinal Tap”-esque documentary, a love letter to Portland no anthology movie could ever match, and comedy gold for (the adults in) the whole family.

This “mockumentary” finds its subject, the fiercely Italian artisan smut-meister Arturo Domingo, watching his career begin its death spiral. In Portland to appear at a screening of his popular “early” works, Domingo (Melik Malkasian) endures battering reviews of his new stuff, fans demanding he return to his previous style (and partner-in-poon Frank E. Normous) and a personal life still in shambles after the love of his life left him because of his hot-tempered jealousy on the set of his most ambitious work, “Full Metal Jackoff.”

He is determined to continue tilting at his artistic windmills alone, however, which results in art-house-cum-skin-flick satires like “Five Easy Nieces” and “Children of a Lesser Wad” (groaners — and boners — are all over the place in this movie!), but Domingo just can’t reconnect with his muse. As fate would have it, however, Portland is ground zero for the people and attitude adjustments he must bring together to heal his soul and restore his mojo.
The story goes off on occasional tangents that could have been more tightly edited (an all-night hippie-freak-out adventure and a side-trip to a Cyrano-esque sub-plot need to zip along a lot more than they do), but the distractions add flavour, and their indulgence is more than offset by the glue holding the picture together, Malkasian’s masterful performance — which starts off Belushi-esque but quickly rises to effortless perfection. The supporting cast are all excellent, particularly John Breen as the quintessential middle-aged stud, but as in Westby’s last feature (“FilmGeek”), Malkasian commands the screen just as his alter-ego commands the set. Even scores of nude people and Ron Jeremy’s cameo cannot move the spotlight off Arturo Domingo.

The laughs are frequent, the story unfolds as it should, the location is lovingly adorned with a mostly-Portland-bands soundtrack, and the flashbacks in particular are works of genius (Malkasian gained 40 pounds to play the “current” Domingo, making his “younger years” look startingly convincing) seamlessly blended in. The supporting characters are funny and memorable, the fans are charming and the naughty bits are … well, adorable. As for the climax — well, let’s just leave that one lying there, shall we? Suffice to say it was climaximum!

“The Auteur” is hands-down the funniest “nudie” movie since “Orgazmo,” a Fellini-and-Waters-make-“Stardust Memories” romp that is nothing short of skin-sational.

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