‘Women in Trouble’ doesn’t quite rise to the occasion
The almost entirely female cast of Women In Trouble tend to be taut, leggy twenty- and thirtysomethings with long, flowing locks, who look great in lacy underwear and high heels. The actresses are made to look so similar in Sebastian Gutierrez’s stylized ensemble comedy, it’s often hard to tell the characters apart.
As a handful of random women meet, confess their secrets, and bond during the course of one day in an unnamed city (it was shot in L.A.), viewers might feel like they’re watching that show on the Playboy Channel where the bunnies wander around the mansion and talk about their insular lives; it provides eye candy for awhile but it never feels like real life. A plucky Carla Gugino plays porn star Elektra Luxx (hers is “the most popular celebrity vagina on the market”), who’s astonished to learn she’s pregnant. On the way out of the clinic, she gets stuck in a malfunctioning elevator with Doris (Connie Britton), a woman with a secret to unload.
Elektra’s co-star, Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki), a sweet dimbulb who keeps getting backed-into by cars, joins her call-girl pal (Emmanuelle Chriqui) on a disastrous job that sends them fleeing for their lives to a lesbian bar. En route, they pick up a therapist neighbor (Sarah Clarke), who’s just caught her husband (Simon Baker) cheating with the mother of her adolescent client. (This infant savant girl is meant to be the sensible center of the story, although the actress, Isabella Gutierrez, the director’s daughter, bears an unsettling resemblance to the demon child in Orphan.) Meanwhile, a flight attendant (Marley Shelton) has an airborne close encounter with a legendary British rocker (a very funny cameo by Josh Brolin).
Gutierrez has written some scripts with Pedro Almodóvar, and Women In Trouble is very much in the vein of the latter’s florid farcical melodramas. The dialogue can be amusing. (Elektra is a natural in porn, she says, because her “grandmother was a gypsy sword-swallower.”) What’s missing is the earthy humanism and compassion in the best of Almodóvar’s films. Gutierrez’s dizzy femmes careen around in an alternative universe of sexy silliness. (Only the intrepid Gugino and Britton, have enough screen time and chutzpah to earn viewer sympathy and interest.)
Gutierrez borrows the lollipop veneer of his mentor’s films without providing a reason to care about any of it. His movie is Almodóvar Lite.
WOMEN IN TROUBLE ★★ With Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki, Sarah Clarke, Simon Baker and Marley Shelton. (R) 92 minutes.