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A Steamy and Silly Soft-Core Erotica: PlayTime

I’ve seen a number of soft-core films, and have even reviewed a few of them, like Night Shade, Temptations, and Body of Influence 2. In most cases these films aren’t that good --- either they’re not really sexy, or they are nasty movies in which somebody has to die, which ruins the sexiness. Temptations was the better one out of all of these direct to video knock-offs, because it was just a fluffy little sex comedy about beautiful people basically playing a game of sexual musical chairs. But Temptations doesn’t hold a candle to Play Time, a movie where sexual musical chairs, and sexual games, are entirely the point.

In a lot of ways, Play Time is a very silly, and perhaps even very bad, movie. The acting ranges from bland (the male leads) to somewhat melodramatic (the female leads). Many moments are quite laughable, and force you to hit your hand against your forehead. But this is a sex movie. What? Were you expecting to see scenes straight out of a John Ford picture? Didn’t think so! As a real movie, Play Time is pretty mediocre, but as a sex movie, Play Time rocks.

The storyline in this movie is incredible. Every other sex movie is really about sex, but those movies (even Temptations) disguised it by adding on a lot of extra details. Night Shade was supposed to be about vampirism; the vampirism was pathetic, so -- bad movie. Body of Influence was supposed to be about a manipulative, perhaps unstable, woman; stuff like that makes the sexy stuff look too threatening and cheap, so -- another fairly bad movie. Temptations had a plot about the two sister’s family farm threatened by some bad old local capitalist, but the movie was about relationships, so the movie was a lot more entertaining. Play Time, however, is actually about sex. Its plot is about sex. The set-up is about sex. The subject is sex. The whole thing is about sex

Monique Parent and Jennifer Burton are two friends who, with their husbands, spend a lot of time together. Apparently all four work at the same law firm, although the movie is pretty coy about exactly what sort of work, or cases they are involved in, which is the only thing this movie is coy about. One day, while the husbands go out to play golf, the two women talk about their sex lives (of course, they decide to sunbathe topless during this scene). Parent’s character, Gina, admits that she doesn’t have much of a sex life with her husband, therefore she has to masturbate. Of course, Burton’s character, Lindsay, says that she does too. The two women start talking about their fantasies, and then joke that they are so turned on by them that they feel like releasing the tension right now. Suddenly the pool man drops in, and the two topless women scurry inside the house. The fantasy talk (now about the pool man) continues, but Lindsay has an idea… why go into separate rooms to masturbate when they can just watch each other do it… they do. And they enjoy, for much of the movie, what they call voyeurism, but what any fool would call a form of repressed lesbianism.

But…how to break it to the husbands? Lindsay figures her husband would be very turned on, but Gina figures her husband would be too strait-laced to accept this. Lindsay soon suggests to the husband to secretly watch one of their little voyeuristic sessions the next time the two couples get together (they seem to vacation everywhere together)…and this later leads to a threesome in the Jacuzzi. So three down, and one more to go, in the form of Gina’s husband. Lindsay tries to subtly draw the man in when he accidentally catches sight of her naked in the sauna, but things look bad when Gina tries to tell her husband what‘s going on, and he flat out says that “You‘re a pervert!”, before storming out, threatening to bolt out of the marriage, the friendship, and the law firm. These unsettled feelings soon lead to a breakdown between the four, but it’s an oh-so-shameful secret from the strait-laced husband which just may finally bring about some closure and forgiveness.

I sound like I’m making fun of the movie. Yes, it is pretty ridiculous, but I doubt the writers were going for heavy drama. The writer (credited as Mary Ellen Hanover, so hurrah! for a female writer of film erotica!) just wanted to make a sexy movie, and this is definitely a very hot movie. The fact that the film is about fantasies of both sexes might make it good for couples who go for these sorts of films, and the storyline is like a cheesy soap opera, which means that it takes all these crazy sexual activities for granted, instead of making them look evil. There are no villains, or evil women out to destroy men; this is merely an erotic fantasy. The fact that these characters actually talk about sex and fantasies is, in a sense, pretty positive, even if you kind of wonder what universe they are in when they act so carefree about everything.

The sex scenes are very explicit -- and any claim that they are merely simulated is, I think, a very dubious one. While you do not <I>see</I> any hardcore shots, it’s hard to imagine that these people were merely acting the whole time. When Parent and Burton watch each other, they certainly perform like people who are immersed in the whole sexuality of the thing that they are doing. When the two climax, they look as if they mean it, which only makes it a lot more erotic. And Burton gets most of the most raunchiest scenes when she makes love with her husband -- the shot when Burton gets simulated from the movements of her husband’s hand is about as steamy as when the two are actually into full-fledged lovemaking. All four of these people give the impression that they are actually enjoying what they are doing, and the soundtrack definitely does not disguise any verbal indication of that enjoyment, if you catch my drift.

The voyeurism thing is pretty funny, because any idiot would guess that if two women want to watch each other bring themselves to orgasm, then they must be lesbians. After their second session, in which they actually get pretty close, you think that they will admit their love when Gina actually says that she loves Lindsay. They share a kiss, but then Gina basically says that she was just testing to see whether or not she was actually a lesbian or not --- but, no, it’s only voyeurism!!! Of course!! The thing is, however, that Lindsay is clearly sexually insatiable -- she’s the one who initiates this sex game, and she is the one with all of the ideas that come into fruition for the rest of the film. This leads to the predicted point where they swap partners -- Lindsay walks in to Gina’s husband’s office to apologize, which ends up taking the form of oral sex. Lindsay’s hubby walks in, is angry, confides with Gina while Lindsay and Gina’s hubby carry on, yadda, yadda, yadda…..

The prudish should run, not walk, far away from Play Time, as this is basically only one step down from XXX territory (one step down means that you don’t see the yucky stuff, there’s an actual plot, actual characters, and actual production values). Play Time, however, is a pretty silly, bizarre entertainment for those with a taste for sexy women and sexy situations, and for those who might want to add a little spice to their own relationships.

Rating: ***

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