|Released||Jan 16th, 2012|
|Running Time||125 Min.|
|Company||New Sensations (Romance Series)|
|DVD Extras||Behind the Scenes, Fetish Menus, Outtakes, Still Gallery(ies), Trailer(s), Widescreen|
|Cast||Anthony Rosano, Dana DeArmond, Danny Mountain, Lexi Bloom, Xander Corvus, Giovanni Francesco, Riley Reid|
|Non-Sex Roles||Lilian (I), Jacky St. James, Nee Nee, Sammy Kismet|
There's not a man alive who doesn't know the pain of being stuck in the dreaded social purgatory of the title with a woman he'd secretly like nothing more than to tongue bathe from head to toe. Which of course is the misfortune tormenting Kevin (Anthony Rosano) in this dizzyingly enchanting modern riff on the classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac. If ever anyone has come anywhere close to concocting an X-rated answer to a Woody Allen film, writer Jacky St. James and director Eddie Powell have done it here.
From the very first frames, The Friend Zone crackles with a palpable and undeniable frisson that stems from something you might not immediately be able to put your finger on, but which becomes increasingly evident as it unfolds: This is a real movie. Not "as close as porn gets to a real movie" or even "just as good as a real movie" ... no, this is dyed-in-the-wool, expertly executed motion picture craftsmanship genuinely more engaging, more affecting and—yes, we're going to say it—BETTER ACTED than half of what you'll find on Netflix.
The story is simple but clever: At the behest of his best friend, roommate and oblivious love of his life, Gina (Riley Reid), Kevin joins her and her just-dumped sister Wendy (Lexi Bloom) in creating online dating profiles to give them all boosts in the relationship department. Except on his profile, just for kicks, Kevin decides to rename himself "Surly Steve" and change his picture out for one of his dashing coworker Cameron (Giovanni Francesco). By a twist of fate, Gina writes to "Surly Steve" on the site and soon falls head over heels for him. At the same time, Wendy coincidentally meets Cameron at a bar and falls head over heels for him. (Side note: What does it say about how much social mores have changed for Wendy, right before she and Cameron jump each other's bones on the night they meet, to ask him, "You're thinking about taking me on a date and we haven't even had sex yet?") Needless to say, when everybody inevitably puts two and two together, Kevin's got some 'splainin to do.
Rosano, one of the finest actors of this porn generation or any other, is at the absolute top of his game here, handily winning the viewer over via his frequent monologues directly to the camera during freeze frames—one of the moviemakers' many inspired touches. And for Reid, this is her star-is-born vehicle; she proves she's got the acting chops to match the red-hot ingénue appeal that's catapulted her onto the industry's current "It" list. When the two eventually make it into bed together, it's a sweet, sumptuous consummation as emotionally satisfying as it is visually stimulating.
Even the minor players here are outstanding: Xander Corvus and Dana DeArmond get off some of the movie's best lines and get each other off in a rowdy scene in the bathroom of Kevin's office. And Danny Mountain does a memorable job cheerfully giving Wendy the heave-ho after giving her a goodbye boning.
Not only is The Friend Zone easily the most exceptional addition thus far to New Sensations' routinely exceptional Romance line, it's a crowning example of everything adult cinema can and should be, and an imperative work to be seen and studied by anyone in the business of making it.