Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Balls to the Wall - Exotic Dancing to His Wedding

How much are you willing to sacrifice to give to the woman you love the grandiose wedding she wants?

When nerdy Ben Camelino (Joe Hursley) is sent to buy a bag of ice with his future father-in-law Mr. Matthews (Christopher McDonald), he learns one unpleasant truth. Mr. Matthews, a flashy financial adviser who was going to pay for the extravagant ceremony, is negotiating with a loan shark – for money he owes! Ben inadvertently follows Matthews, but is mistaken as the exotic dancer called the “Ice Man” (Ben was carrying ice, remember?). He’s standing on a stage with hundreds of ravenous girls waving their dollar bills, ordering him to “take it off”. The lure is so infectious; Ben starts gyrating and stripping down to his boxers. When the music ends, he has oodles of cash on hand.

When his father-in-law learns of this, he persuades Ben to moonlight as an exotic dancer to pay for his $49,998 wedding and the latter’s outstanding loan. With just 3 months before the date, Ben accedes. But the life of an exotic dancer isn’t easy. Competition is tough. Chad (Matt Felker), the club’s star dancer, is starting to notice Ben’s – now called “Everyman” – appeal to the ladies; few of them becoming obsessive!

Despite Ben’s inexperience, he recalls the advice of his Uncle Sven (Antonio Sabato, Jr.) one of his mother’s lovers when he was a child: “Nothing tickles the kitty like a hot ass in action”. Uncle Sven was an exotic dancer and, as a child, Ben was witness to several bedroom games where his uncle would dance for his mother. Such images stuck like glue.

But just when Ben has finally saved enough dough, he learns that Matthews has gambled his wedding money. What’s a guy to do? There’s the Stripapalooza, the “prestigious” exotic male dancing competition where the champ runs home with a whopping $69,000! Trouble is, Rachel (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), his future wife is getting suspicious of Ben’s constant absence. Moreover, would Chad – the club’s main draw - allow him to steal the spotlight and win?

Though the phrase - "balls to the wall" - is usually mistaken as reference to the testicle, the phrase literally refers to “pushing a plane’s throttle all the way forward”; i.e. “to push to the limit and go all out! And you can’t mistake the romanticism in an action where one selflessly offers himself to fulfill the dreams of his future wife. But let’s not get there. This isn’t a romantic comedy. It's more appropriately a screwball comedy with an irreverent story that, at times borders on being vulgar.

Ben is far from being a Brad Pitt, thus his “Everyman” moniker on stage. But it’s his simplicity and “mousiness” that’s giving him the unexpected appeal. Heck, he can’t even dance well.

Comedy is a rare genre for an HBO production, thus I was surprised with the association. But what interests me here is the participation of Christopher McDonald, Mimi Rogers (Tom Cruise’s ex, playing Mrs. Matthews) and Antonio Sabato Jr. (playing Uncle Sven). Though the film postures as a comedy, the laughs are few and far between. What fuels this film is the silly idea that an ordinary guy comes out as a wildly successful stripper. Unfortunately, the hilarious elements are hardly there.

If you want to see Sabato, Hursley, Matt Felker don a thong and wiggle their wormy wares, this might fascinate you. There are several exotic dancing numbers here. Otherwise, it’s a barely realized narrative. Humor is spare in this Penelope Spheeris' flick ("Wayne's World", "Little Rascals"). And yes, even Christopher McDonald does his act, wrinkly potbelly and all, before the film runs its credits. How odd is that?

Christopher McDonald and Mimi Rogers as Mr. & Mrs. Matthews

Jenna Dewan

Jenna Dewan-Tatum. She played lead in the dance movie "Step Up" where she romanced and eventually married G.I. Joe's Channing Tatum!

Antonio Sabato Jr. - still one of the most beautiful man to walk the earth!

Antonio Sabato Jr. plays Uncle Sven

Matt Felker is a successful model. He's appeared in Britney Spears' "Toxic" music video.

Matt Felker was a Ford model.

Matt Felker


Anonymous said...

Well, at the final dance, Ben starts his show in an obvious AC/DC outfit. He danced to the song "Balls to the Wall" by Accept, a German hard rock band. The music sounds like AC/DC but is not. A major goof!

Cathy Pena said...

It was an interesting conclusion, if a tad anti-climactic. I've never heard of Accept. Yes, in the wavelength of major "goofiness". Eye catching cover though. :)